Black Friday: Fun, hype–or class warfare?

business girl with shopping bagsAmerican shoppers seem to fall into two groups: those who are planning their early-morning raids on major retailers (starting as early as Thanksgiving morning!) and those who sneer at people who head out into the cold in search of bargains.

I used to belong to the latter group, until a friend pointed out I was being a snob. Here’s how Los Angeles Times reporter Shan Li puts it in today’s article “Black Friday highlights the contrast between rich and poor.”

“Increasingly, the seasonal shopping surge has become a window into America’s class divide, in which high earners have benefited from a booming stock market and rising home prices as many others still grapple with stagnant incomes and lingering financial anxiety.

“You have people who really need a bargain — they will sit out for two days to get that deal because that may be the only big thing they can afford for the whole family,” said Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group. “Luxury retailers don’t do very well on Black Friday because their customers are not going to fight the crowds.”

Li quotes a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that says the ranks of strapped shoppers who earn less than $50,000 a year are growing from 63 percent of American shoppers two years ago to 67 percent today.

There are alternatives to fighting the crowds, of course. Check out this interesting post at the Nonconsumer Advocate: “10 ways for a zero-dollar Christmas.” Online retailers are offering plenty of good deals as well. Then there’s the whole Shop Small thing, although you need an American Express credit or Bluebird prepaid card to get money back.

If you are planning to venture out in search of deals, consider a good price comparison app such as RedLaser or PriceGrabber on your smart phone, if you have one. They’re good tools to help you figure out which Black Friday bargains are the real deal. A site to track is DealNews, which not only alerts you to deals but which keeps track of previous low prices. If you can’t check prices on the go, at least hang on to your receipts so you can exchange anything for which you find a better buy.

Those of us who will be sitting snug at home shouldn’t feel too self-satisfied, particularly if–like me–you order a lot from a certain online retailer. Read this Motley Fool article about which retailer treats its employees worse: WalMart or Amazon.

Related Posts

  • Will you shop on Thanksgiving? I once made a disparaging comment to a friend about people who rush the doors of their local retailers to snag Black Friday deals. She […]
  • Wednesday’s need-to-know money news Today's top story: Avoiding panic on Black Friday. Also in the news: Shopping strategies for Black Friday, how to earn the most credit […]
  • Friday’s need-to-know money news Today's top story: Why to avoid financial planning over the holidays. Also in the news: What President Trump will mean for mortgage rates, […]
  • Wednesday’s need-to-know money news Today's top story: 4 ways you can protect your credit score over the holidays. Also in the news: Giving Tuesday and beyond, why you should […]