Guest Commentary Opinion

Consumers should think twice before going for Black Friday deals

Shopping on Black Friday can be frightening, with massive crowds, midnight start times and long — well, really long checkout lines.

Before leaving Thanksgiving dinner unfinished and rushing in to a store, keep in mind that the time you spend and the quality of the products you buy could cost you a great deal.

Do your research

Research and prudence are your best friends. Advertisements and low prices are tempting, but don’t allow yourself to be enticed by the deals some companies offer.

Look for real deals. Last year, Target offered the 32-inch Apex (SM3288M LCD) television for $147, and K-Mart had a 24-inch Seiki 1080p HDTV for $88.

Yes, they are cheap, but you should consider the quality of the brands and their durability. These are not well-known brands, and there are no reviews online because the TVs offered for low prices are usually new models made just for a Black Friday release.

Take, for example, Wal-Mart; they sold the Orion 24-inch 720p LCD TV (SLED2478w) for the inexpensive amount of $78. That seems like a good deal, but you should consider that this TV was made for Black Friday and was only sold that day.

A product that is not good enough to be sold year-round might not be a good deal after all. More companies are doing this now.

These “derivative products” are made by the same manufacturer and look almost like the standard model, but they are not the same.

In 2009, Consumer Reports magazine investigated derivative products and found that they are generally manufactured with inexpensive components and lack the best features of the standard models.

The magazine said companies like Samsung and Sony have made derivative TVs in the previous years, and HP’s printers and laptops sold on Black Friday are derivatives as well.

You can tell whether products are derivative electronics because the model numbers are slightly different from those of the current models that companies offer.

You can also do an online search for the model number. If the distribution is limited to a single retailer, it was likely made only for that company to offer as a Black Friday deal.

Consider the products you are buying. Toys are usually cheaper two weeks before Christmas, so it’s better to wait if you can. In fact, according to a study done by ShopAdvisor, the day with the lowest percentage of products on sale was Black Friday.

Quality is more important that the quantity you spend. If you don’t get a product that lasts, you are losing money.

It’s crucial that you do your research before heading to a line. Remember, retailers are clever, and they are looking for the best ways to make you spend money and make a profit out of this day.

Time is money

After doing your research and determining what is really worth buying on Black Friday, you should consider whether the savings will be worth the additional costs. Count the value of your time.

Consider the time you spend in line to enter the store and the time you spend in the endless checkout lines. But more importantly, consider the time lost with your family.

Every minute you spend at a line waiting for the store to open could be a minute spent with your loved ones.

Decide what’s more important, the time-consuming shopping or the time you could dedicate to your family on Thanksgiving Day.

Consider the cold weather, the endless lines, sleep deprivation and the time you will miss from being with your loved ones and figure out whether the deal you found is still really worth it.

Is it worth it?

In the end, you might decide if the hassle is worth it. But it is fundamental that you research and consider the quality of the products that are being sold on Black Friday and the time that you will lose with your family. Remember, time is more valuable than money. Finish your turkey, enjoy your Thanksgiving and then decide whether Black Friday is really worth it.

Columnist Andrea Pizzolo is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected].


  • Yes! I agree… retailers never lose…. if it’s that cheap.. then I’m sure there’s a reason behind it… 🙂

  • Funny. There was a business expert from NY talking on NPR today about how ludicrous it was to promote any kind of Black Friday discount since we never see the base price from which those “40, 50, or even 60%” sales slashes are coming from. In reality, he explained it costs a company MORE to stay open longer during the Black Friday sell-a-thons and they’re not absorbing those costs. Moreover, those block-busting deals are planned well in advance with distributors, and the sellers are getting the goods cheep but not passing those savings on to consumers. Instead they lure them into long lines and block-buster sales with hype and clever ads. IOW, its mostly all hype and no discount. Caveat emptor!

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