How to make the most of Black Friday shopping

PORTLAND, Ore. — Shopping on Black Friday can be daunting, with massive crowds, pre-dawn start times and long checkout lines.

Roughly 77 million Americans are expected to head to stores Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and often considered the start of the holiday shopping season, and the frenzy will continue through the weekend.

But whether it’s worth participating depends on who’s shopping, what they want and all the costs involved.

Here’s what to keep in mind.

The shopper

This is the biggest factor. Some people love the thrill of the chase. They want to score a deal, and they like the tradition. To them, Black Friday is worth the effort no matter the hassle.

“There is a visceral excitement to going to stores on Black Friday; it’s almost like a sporting event,” said Dan de Grandpre, editor in chief of online shopping and discount guide

Even though promotions pervade the season, the ideal Black Friday Shopper responds to the sense of urgency and exclusivity that retailers create for that day with early openings and a limited number of items discounted, said Steven Hoch, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school.

Others want nothing to do with it. And for some it’s a default tradition, a means to get out of the house after overeating on Thanksgiving, a break from bad weather and an activity every family member can participate in.

“I think it’s out of total boredom,” Hoch said.

The item

Retailers count on the excitement of Black Friday to ignite holiday shopping so they use big, attention-grabbing discounts to lure shoppers. The most notable deals are usually on big-ticket purchases like televisions, computers and other electronics, de Grandpre said.

There may be more discounts this year on smaller items like sweat shirts or coffee pots to cater to shoppers’ more modest ways. But the big splash is where the big savings lie.

“Those are the things that get people whipped into a frenzy,” de Grandpre said.

Just bear in mind that retailers tend to make their most significant cuts on lower-priced versions of products because they know they can continue to sell higher-end items the rest of the year.

“If the deal made you say ‘Wow!’ … that tells you that the deal is probably worth it,” de Grandpre said.

The costs

After you determine (ahead of time) what you should pay for the items you want, then decide whether your savings will be worth your additional costs.

Count the value of your time, the gas to get to the store and circle for parking, the extra snacks at the food court and any other costs you incur simply because you are shopping.

Also remember the add-ons: the cable to go with the super-cheap television and the impulse purchases you make while roaming the aisles when they’re out of the item you came for.

One of the easiest ways to limit those added costs is to shop online.

Many retailers offer the same deals online as in the stores — and sometimes they start the day before or sooner.

“You could go to the store and deal with the hassle. Or you could stay home in your jammies,” de Grandpre said. “I’m generally inclined toward the latter.”

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.

Tanner Mock begins unwrapping new furniture that has been delivered on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In Everett, new look, new name for mainstay Behar’s Furniture

Conlin’s Furniture, based in South Dakota, bought the huge store and celebrates with a grand opening this week.