Sleep in on Black Friday, ride the Holly Trolley to shop local on Small Business Saturday

Before you get overly excited about Black Friday this week, stop and consider what it really is and whether it’s worth the trouble.

In the 1980s retailers found a way to make the day after Thanksgiving turn a profit, connoting the word “black” in “Black Friday” to mean “in the black” from their financial perspective.

Black Friday traditionally helps kick off the holiday season as the busiest shopping day of the year. It has proved to be an important time for the economy because about 30 percent of annual retail sales are made between Black Friday and Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation. And jewelers report their sales during this period at 40 percent of annual.

While the Wall Street Journal reported that the number of last year’s Black Friday in-store shoppers declined 4 percent from 2016’s 101.7 million, that may have been affected by an 18 percent increase in online shoppers during that time last November.

Nowadays, the one-day sales extravaganza has spread through the whole weekend with Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores began opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday, and now you can even hit the sales as soon as you’ve had your pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.

But is it really worth ditching the family gathering after Thanksgiving dinner to go wait in line at a big box store? Do you really get the kind of deals that merit getting up before dawn on Black Friday to wait in long lines in the cold and dark before the stores open?

While the ubiquitous Black Friday ads promise the lowest prices of the year for things they say you’ve just got to have, thebalance.com says retailers, including Amazon, upstage Black Friday by offering deals earlier and earlier. Now Thanksgiving has surpassed Black Friday in terms of getting good deals, according to an Adobe Systems report.

A New York Times story last week said the number of deals peaks the week before Thanksgiving. “The average in-store discount is 20 percent for the entire week. That discount increases to 37 percent on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Saturday.”

Most shoppers are likely aware that many “great deals” offered on Black Friday may not be worth buying, and not everything is really at its lowest price.

We like The New York Times’ advice that if you want to make sure you are getting a good deal, head out to your local retailers and shops on Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses may not always have the cheapest overall prices” the Times’ Alan Henry writes, “but most drastically cut their own prices for events like Small Business Saturday in order to get shoppers in the door, and even if you wind up paying a bit more, you’re helping a local business and their employees stay in business in a highly competitive landscape.”

Local shoppers can support businesses in our community by riding the free Holly Trolley Saturday, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Co-sponsored by Fort Wayne Newspapers, the Downtown Improvement District’s free trolley rides will stop at several venues throughout downtown Fort Wayne, West Main Street shops and the Wells Street corridor. For more information go to HollyTrolleyDowntown.com.

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