How To Survive Black Friday

The Grinch got it kinda right. You don’t need to fight the Black Friday crowds because a really good Christmas doesn’t come from a store.

If I was a good second-rate blogger, I probably would have spent the last couple of months optimizing my blog for holiday sales. I know one fellow who is really pushing 2014’s hot toys, and I hope another one that I haven’t heard from in a while is doing fine with her kitchen accessory blog. And me? I just recently did a few things featuring house lighting and I’m hoping my blog entries in the Computers and Electronics category do decently this year. Black Friday? Bah. The most I might do is feature deals from Orion Telescopes (Free observing guides for Mars, Jupiter and Saturn worth $49.99 with purchase of select telescopes starting November 28th and ending December 3rd) and Makerbot (which did something kinda Grinchy by ending its affiliate program with Linkshare but I can still feature the Amazon listings).

My advice for surviving Black Friday? Stay home. That’s right, stay home. That doll isn’t worth risking being trampled over when you could get it cheaper if you know where to look online. If you do your online Christmas shopping early this year, we won’t have the fiasco where shipping services like UPS and FedEx got overwhelmed with last-minute Christmas purchases and some of the packages didn’t make it on time. Hunt for Cyber Monday deals early if you want, but remember that you may still be recovering from that enormous Thanksgiving dinner you had and you don’t need the stress of fighting the Black Friday crowds on top of that.

I do get why major corporations push the Black Friday holiday shopping thing. It’s all about the profit margin. They want your money, simple as that, and they’re willing to risk hysterical shoppers doing damage to their stores to get it. Anytime you see Christmas selections before Thanksgiving, the best thing you can do is remember that retailers also care about the ratio between dollars earned and square footage and move along to the meat department to select your turkey. They’ll take the hint if Christmas sales don’t really take off until after the turkey has been roasted. The same rule applies for Black Friday shopping and they’ll start noticing if more people start doing their shopping online. Wal-Mart has a website too, and so does Best Buy, so it would make a good attention-getter if they get more sales online than they get in their brick-and-mortar stores tomorrow.

But, hey, do what you want. If you want all the stress of getting up way too early in the morning, fighting all the other vehicles for a parking space, and dealing with the crowd at the mall, I’m not one to make you stop buying into all the consumerism that goes on around the holidays. Just remember all those leftovers in your fridge when you notice how packed the food court is and don’t be ashamed to make a couple of runs to your car to stick stuff in your trunk when your hands start getting way too full of plastic bags.

You might also remember some of those little retailers that try to compete with the big dogs this holiday season. You know the ones in the downtown area, the cute little coffee place and the resale shop that sometimes has cool stuff. This concept has an online equivalent, too. Sometimes when I do a sales page, I try to feature products from the likes of TigerDirect and B2C Jewels because I know these guys are trying to compete with larger online retailers and could use the traffic and potential customers. I like to support small businesses because these are guys who probably resent Wal-Mart for the way it mistreat its employees, steals away customers who only go there for the low prices, and drag down the public image of business owners everywhere, and it’s convenient to be able to get a good cup of coffee without going out of my way for Starbucks whenever I’m shopping in the downtown area.

I might do “10 Impressively Expensive Necklaces,” but that’s me kidding around about what some things cost while still showing off their products. If you overspent and ran up your credit card bill last year, you might want to reconsider your shopping strategy this year. So many toys tend to be clones of each other that I often advise parents to buy Legos for the older kids and Duplo for the toddlers. One or two decent sized sets provide enough imaginative fun that they probably won’t miss the electronic toys, and you don’t have to blow your budget for it.

Seriously, though, you might want to consider doing your holiday shopping online this way for the sake of both your health and your sanity. That’s not me being a Grinch or a Scrooge. That’s me being realistic in my Black Friday expectations.

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