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My official in the flesh encounter with Black Friday and all its deliciously glorious sale entrapment was in 2011. 

There I was relishing the best part of a food coma (sleep!) as the result of Aunt Beth’s (not her real name) bland spread when I was rudely awoken to go Black Friday shopping. Who does that? Confused, I stumbled towards the shower thinking it was morning only to hear, “You ready?” I quickly realized that I was not wearing pyjamas and that it was only 8 pm! 

I was an international student in Chicago and I had been invited to spend my first Thanksgiving break, in the Northern tip of Indiana at a log cabin with an outdoor hot tub. The perfect ingredients for a romantic Hollywood holiday movie. In the 45-minute car ride to their nearest shopping strip, I learnt that my host family took Black Friday shopping very seriously. I remember gasping at the throngs of people waiting in line for the Walmart to open and thinking, ‘this is INSANE!’, as I took in the crowd – some of whom had been there since 5pm. “It’s the first time they’re opening at 11 pm” slurred the man in front of me as I jumped up and down trying to bring back some kind of sensation to my frozen toes.

Despite my initial resistance to the capitalistic entanglement, cloaked in must-have 70% markdown, sale, and final clearance. My, I see you, capitalism. You ain’t slick lasted all of one year! Turns out capitalism is slicker than I had given it credit for because I sure got swept up in the hype of it all. So much so that one year I over-compensated for the years that I didn’t participate and purchased things I did not need in the name of a great deal, causing myself financial discomfort and  psychological anguish.

The Psychological Storm

Associate professor at the Michigan Ross School of Business Scott Rick’s has done some extensive research on the emotional causes and consequences of consumer financial decision-making which explains why resisting the trappings of a Black Friday deal is no easy feat.

The Deal

Black Friday deals can seem better than they are simply because of all the marketing that goes into the day itself. We see a limited-time label attached to the deal and immediately start sensing anticipatory regret – popularly known as FOMO (Fear of missing out.)

Name one person who doesn’t like a good deal? Regardless of whether you need the item or not, “the value of the deal itself is very pleasing,” says Rick. 

Shopping Momentum 

This psychological impulse happens when the purchase of one item fuels the purchase of another unrelated item. One typically experiences this impulse while online shopping and you place an item in your shopping cart only to add another two or three unrelated suggested must-have deals.   

Buyers Remorse

You know that feeling of regret rushing over you after swiping your card for a spontaneous big purchase, an item you couldn’t afford, or something you didn’t need? That my friend is called buyer’s remorse, something I’m all too familiar with. Especially during this time of year. 

How To Maximise Black Friday Deals

It’s not all doom and gloom, we can use Black Friday to our advantage. 

Here are some suggestions on how to maximise the sales and minimise experiencing psychological anguish over Black Friday shopping by planning, researching, and allocating a budget. 

Write a list of items you;

  • Need – Such as a new microwave, washing machine or other such household goods.  
  • Want – Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to splurge on yourself, and try new things, and not break your bank balance. 

Research – retailers typically start advertising their Black Friday offerings weeks before the actual day. Your email should be inundated with adverts from some of your favourite retailers. Instead of relegating them to the junk box, open them and compare and contrast prices and brands. 

Budget – Every year on the third Friday of November it’s Black Friday. Start saving for the shopping event of the year at least six months prior so that you don’t break your bank balance. 

If celebrating the holidays includes gift-giving, use Black Friday to your advantage by purchasing gifts at great prices. A 2018 study indicated that a vast majority of people allocate 69% of their Black Friday budget to purchasing Christmas gifts.     

Shop Early

A lot of retailers start offering Black Friday deals to their customers way before the actual day. 

“Starting early also gives you a better chance of getting your items on time if the retailer runs out of stock due to recent issues with shortages or higher-than-expected demand.” says credit expert LaToya Irby 

In conclusion, there’s absolutely no shame in returning items should you happen to purchase an unwanted item on impulse and experience buyers remorse afterwards. Unless the salesperson communicated that the item was a final sale, the store will either give you your money back or issue a gift card – depending on their return policies.  

Speaking of planning, head over to the AoS shop to see what deals you can take advantage of this holiday season.