The Truth Behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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From “Freaky Friday” to “Manic Monday” (otherwise known as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”), we are inundated with reports that tell us how incredibly important those days are for the recovery of our economy. This last month of the year could make up for a year dripping with red ink.Have you caught the “fever” yet? Are you in a buying frenzy because you fear there will be a scarcity of the products you hope to purchase? Are you terrified that the greatest sale in history will evaporate before your very eyes if you don’t buy that “something” this very minute? Can you resist these “sales of the century” without a guilty conscience? After all, you might save your family a buck or two!Does your heart throb at the sound of the cash register, the click-click of the credit card machine, the whooshing sound of money diving out of the ATM?Welcome to the wacky world of Christmas shopping. Within nano seconds, Halloween items were purged from retail shelves and immediately replaced with Christmas merchandise. Retailers collectively by-passed the bland Thanksgiving (translation: non-gift giving) holiday for the lucrative (hopefully) Christmas holiday.Black Friday signifies more than the end of the useless Thanksgiving holiday, which only benefits restaurants and supermarkets, it represents the last hope for retailers to recover from a year of lackluster sales from an economy plagued by a prolonged recession and high unemployment. It is do or die time. Literally. You could almost hear the retail mantra throughout the land…”Forget that worthless Thanksgiving holiday, the real money is in Christmas.”Gifts, parties, new electronic toy launches, corporate bonuses (or not), the competition was palpable on Black Friday. The stores parlayed for the best starting times: 5:00 am, 4:00 am, 3:00 am, and the winner was -12:01 am. Why wait one minute longer than necessary?One only had to look at the recap of the news on “Black Friday” night to wonder, “What recession? What unemployment? What credit card crisis?” To paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare, “The pay’s the thing.” And so, the games began with the roar of a crowd of desperate shoppers seeking deep discounts and once-in-a-lifetime bargains. The pressure to “buy” and “buy right now” will be kept on the vulnerable consumer until the end of January, when the after-Christmas sales offer “deals too good to refuse.” Deals that will never again, in this century, ever be repeated.Can you bear the heat? Will you break open your piggy banks? “Borrow” from your kids’ college funds?The clock is ticking…do you know where your wallet is?5 things to remember before you whip out your credit or debit card:1. The sales will increase exponentially until Christmas Eve, and will escalate even further after Christmas.2. There is no scarcity of products. This is an effective marketing technique and has no basis in reality.3. Avoid the “mob mentality.” In other words, if you are standing with a crowd while you wait for the doors to your favorite store to open, you will get swept up in the buying frenzy. Remember, there will be more than one iPod on this planet for you to purchase at a great price. The mob will run over you and/or knock you out to snatch a desired item from your hands.4. Do not buy with your emotions. Prepare a list of gifts you hope to purchase.5. Do not buy something just because you think it’s a good deal. Have a budget and stick to it.