Black Friday start kicked the holiday shopping season; but this year, sales started earlier and is interrupting family time on Thanksgiving. Stores in the Staten Island Mall open at midnight, but numerous department and wholesale stores are opening when families are cutting the turkey.
Mary Sullivan* is a sales associate at a women's clothing store in the Staten Island Mall. Sullivan weighed in on the holiday starting early, deals, and the ultimate consumer struggle: the decision to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
"I have noticed how early the holiday season started this year," said Sullivan. "Right after Halloween. It used to be after Thanksgiving."
"Least-Crowded Black Friday Ever"
Crowds seems to be a constant concern on Black Friday. The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch is reporting that this year will be the "least-crowded Black Friday ever." Stores opening right after you serve the turkey at home is supposed to prevent the bargain hungry mobs. However, apparel stores in the mall are already offering style steal prices starting at 40% off.
Buzzfeed provided the statistic: last year there were 225,000,000 people who shopped on Black Friday; and $11,400,000,000 was spent.
Companies hope to have an increase of 3.1% in their sales this year because of the early opening times.
Be a Smart Shopper
"When I was a shopper, during Black Friday, I'd only go in the stores where things were 60% off," said Sullivan. "And I'd hit the outlets, forget the mall. You know you won't save there."
Sullivan has a separate email account for junk email. She suggests signing up for shops you like because they send special sale alerts. Gap and Old Navy have already sent out pre-Black Friday sales.
Don't be tricked into thinking Black Friday has the best sales. Sullivan's store is already offering their Black Friday prices.
"Personally opening at midnight for [the store] is stupid," said Sullivan. "We've been offerng 50% off every other week. It'll be 50% off on Black Friday."
If you're in a rush and don't want to try things on, don't forget to ask about the return policy. Avoid impulse purchases, think to yourself, "need, want or desire."
Cyber Monday is increasing in popularity and is the heaviest money spending day. From 2011-2012, online sales increased 30%. Although you may be beating out the crowds, sites may be running a bit slow because of other shoppers.
Cyber Monday is reported to be the better day to purchase apparel compared to Black Friday. Download the RetailMeNot app. The app searches for coupons for customers to use on top of the storewide or sitewide promos.
The average number of items purchased online are 8.34 items. Scope out prices on other sites before you press the 'place order' button. Some online stores may compensate for free shipping in their items; they offer free shipping, but they could raise the item's price a few bucks.
As a smart consumer, you need to check prices in other stores and online before you purchase. Cyber Monday and Black Friday have different deals based on the specific item you are looking to buy. You can wait until after you had a full nights rest after Thanksgiving to go Christmas shopping.
* Name has been changed upon request