Why is Black Friday such a big deal?

I’ve been thinking about the holiday shopping season and why Black Friday and the entire Thankgsiving weekend is so crazy for shoppers. Why do all these people go crazy trying to get the best deals? Why do they spend so much time out in the malls that weekend buying things? Why is it specifically just this weekend that is crazy?

Some things have occurred to me this year since it is the first one I have had living with my husband in a house vs a condo/townhome setup. One thing has struck me for sure this year. People are scheduled. Everyone has events to attend, multiple family members to see, possibly neighbors or coworkers also and way more work around the house and at their day job than anyone can really handle.

What does this really mean?

People don’t have a lot of time to prepare for Christmas even though they feel the weight of the expectations from kids, family members and themselves after seeing the onslaught of advertising and promotional decorating that happens around town every year.

With way too much going on you usually end up with all your time too busy and scheduled to start shopping until the Thanksgiving event is checked off the list. Then you luckily have a three day weekend with the family that people tend to sacrifice on doing all this work in prep for the bigger deal holiday down the road.

This may be the one weekend  that moms can get out of the house to shop without the kids in tow, since their husbands/relatives are likely off from work also and can watch the kids at home. suprising the kids is impossible if they’re in the store with you so this weekend is important for the element of surprise.

Stores have long made a big deal out of this being the “busiest shopping day of the year” because it is the “first official day of the Christmas Season” even though Holiday decorations usually pop up the day after Halloween. The inside lingo of calling the day “Black Friday” became public about 6-7 years ago as companies admitted that stores may be in the red financially (operating at a loss) for the year until this day because so much of their business is done in the Christmas Holiday Season.

Since then people and marketers have been even more obsessed with having the biggest sales to attract the most buyers and people want the best deals. Entire websites have sprung up (and mobile apps) to track all the prices from competing stores and give you the inside scoop on getting the lowest prices for those items your kids and relatives want.

Some people shop online but how many of us hate it when something is pictured on a site and looks different/color/size/texture than you thought and has to be mailed back and it is twice the hassle of getting it at the store? It is also equally frustrating to see something online and then go to the store to find it isn’t even stocked and you wasted a trip.

So are these special sale prices on Black Friday really all that great? From what I have seen most of the really low prices on high demand items are very limited (4-6 per store, hence the waiting in line to get in first) and most people don’t get them. The other aspect of the deals that you hear less about is that these items are never the high end good quality items on sale. We have been looking at LED TVs this year and none of the ones I’ve seen on sale have been the 240 hz models. Only the 60hz and 120 hz models are on sale. It seems like a way to make a big fuss about people going to your store to get a good deal and limiting the sales to lower quality items and in limited quantity.

In addition to that, the Christmas holiday seems to have little or no religious meaning for most Americans at this point. It is a family oriented economic event. I agree with the ideas of getting together with family and spending time with those who really mean a lot to you in your life. I also believe that everyone has a few things they can’t afford or won’t quite go buy even though they need them and it is family and friends that should help them out this time of year and that is where the gifts come in. But this Santa brings everyone everything they ever wanted thing has to stop. As does the over-buying that the TV/Radio ads tend to promote.

I don’t know if it is worth going through all the craziness of shopping on Black Friday or Thanksgiving Weekend unless you are like us, both employed and scheduled for something on every day of all the weekends from Thanksgiving until the end of the year. Then it is your only chance to get things bought and decorated before family starts arriving expecting your house to look perfect. I am just trying to figure out when I will have time to clean it.

If you’re into Black Friday Sales you probably have: Kids, Inlaws, Someone staying with you over the holidays or a million christmas lights on your house and lawn. You probably live near a large metro area or in a city that has big box stores.

If you’re not you may be a: College Student, Single Guy or Girl or just not have kids. You probably don’t get into the decorating thing either. Someone else in the family probably hosts all the events and you get more sleep per night than they do per week.

A side note: It has also been reported that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has become the second most crowded night in bars in the year. This used to be a big binge night for College students becasue they didn’t have class the next day and would be back home with all their old friends to meet up and hang out. It is interesting that it has flowed into the single people at older ages category and possibly others also. Maybe they drink because they know what is coming?

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Five reasons to Tweet

how to grow your twitter presence graph chart table ideas marketing advertisingThere are millions of useless tweets out there on Twitter.com. Here are some suggestions for things I’d like to see tweeted more:

1. Tweet to say thanks. Not enough people do this in real life, business or online.

2. Tweet something you found useful or helpful.

3. Tweet your reactions to something surprising. Good or bad reactions to products are actually very helpful to the product dev process for companies.

4. Tweet ideas you think may help others. Especially ones not related to your core business. I believe that ideas from outside companies can revolutionize how they think by bringing in fresh info.

5. Tweet back comments to questions. This informal way to survey has developed into a valuable real time tool for people to find answers to real questions.

Things I’d like to see less of:

1. Breakfast, lunch and dinner photos.

2. Celeb following and retweeting

3. Drunk Tweeting

4. Flame tweet wars

5. Lame product pitches disguised as articles, white papers and special product sales deals without full disclosure.

Got any ideas to add?

Last Day At Job Checklist for Work

Today is my last day at the company I work for. I have a new job starting next Tuesday that took 6 months to find. I’m excited to be moving into a cool new job but there are loose ends to tie up here first. This made me think about the process that we use to exit jobs that aren’t because of a layoff or a company shutting down (these take much longer). These are the things I’ve been doing that I realized weren’t things I had thought about before:

1. Distribute the knowledge – I’ve spent all week training people on what it is that I mysteriously do to create the reports I have been doing over the last 4.5 years. Also training a new person this week on how to do analysis from scratch has been a large chunk of the time spent.

2. Clean out personal stuff – I took home all my personal stuff yesterday and then I have today to look over things again in case I missed anything.

3. Distribute valuables – in a controlled economy like the office, good monitors, good chairs and the nick knacks that amuse us are all in limited supply. Distribute these items to those who have been gracious to you over the years and could genuinely use them.

4. Summary Goodbye email – say something witty and genuine to the office or department and leave your contact info for them if they need it.

5. Tie up all paperwork – COBRA insurance paperwork comes in the mail but they may need a paper copy of  your resignation letter with a signature to officially process things. Check when your health insurance ends, mine goes through the end of the month if I don’t opt for COBRA although I probably will until I’m sure that the new insurance will be set up and active. 401K’s can stay put, this one doesn’t charge to stay in the plan so I’m keeping it where it is at the moment.

6. Take any last pictures if you want to remember it. I have a view of Chicago from the 31st floor so I took a lot of pictures.

7. Go out drinking one last time with the gang. And take pictures.

Did I miss anything?

I’m sad that I’m loosing my view of the beautiful yet grizzly city. I’m sad I’m going to miss some great people. I am also dissapointed that I am loosing my great insurance.

I’m happy I’m moving to a manager role. I’m happy to jump into new projects. I’m happy to delve into consumer marketing after 10 years with recruitment marketing and media. I’m happy to never do data entry again or see another media matrix. I’m happy to learn more about webtrends and do more SEM work again. I’m happy to cut my commute time in half, gain my NPR back in the mornings and never ride a diesel fume filled METRA train again.

As you can see the positives out weigh the negatives. So, I’ll be blogging from a much lower altitude in OPRF as of next week.