Black Friday – Shopping Tips to Keep You Sane and Save Money!

Companies and customers have long been up in arms about Black Friday! With a tough economy where companies are looking to increase sales and revenues, and where financially strapped customers are looking for the best deals, this Black Friday is full of expectations and hope on both sides. Furthermore, the recent election has not made customers any more relaxed about the economy than they did in the immediate post-recessionary period of 2008, and deal hunting and bargains can certainly go a long way to saving for an uncertain economic and financial future under a soon-to-be new government administration.

Just type in “Black Friday” in Google or another search engine and you will get an idea of the advertising frenzy, deals, and promotions. In fact, from mid-to-early October, Yahoo’s Associated Press and other online news companies and forums had topics similar to the following: “… Black Friday Deals Leaked!” and dozens of others giving customers and prospects a sneak peek at leaked Black Friday deals. We all know by now that many of these so-called “leaked” ads and deals represent just another marketing and advertising tactic to get the buzz going! This is certainly needed to make this Black Friday a knockout one. Hopefully the number crunching will tell the bottom line story after this one-day-a-year frenzy has passed!

Black Friday is not just a super-shopping day that millions of Americans look forward to, but something that many save and plan for. As early as the end of October companies started building their marketing themes and ads around Black Friday, and dozens of articles across websites started offering Black Friday shopping tips on what to buy, where to go for bargains, including Black Friday do’s and don’ts. For example, Courtney Jespersen, a staff writer from Nerdwallet.com, in her article “What to Buy, and Skip, on Black Friday 2016” written on October 21, 2016, advises customers to buy previous models of products in order to experience real savings, especially on Apple products, since “Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart discount Apple products each year on Black Friday, and previous-generation models usually see the most dramatic deals” (Jespersen, 2016, p. 1). Additionally, she also advises shoppers to skip toys on Black Friday, perhaps waiting for the Christmas deals on toys from Kmart, Wal-Mart and Big Lots, and other companies – and in this same light, to also skip Christmas decorations, waiting till December 26 (Jespersen, 2016). Some consumers might find her advice on Christmas decoration a bit purposeless, but after all, you can save them for next Christmas. Jespersen (2016) also advises customers to skip winter clothing, bedding, and mail-in rebates, and instead, buy the major staple of Black Friday – electronics such as TV, tablets, smartphones, and other similar items including home appliances, video gaming bundles including CDs and DVDs. This is good advice!

Before you start getting too excited about Black Friday shopping, here are a few tips that will be useful in helping you remain a responsible, conscious, and rational, wise shopper:

·         Check your finances! It is important to check whether or not you have disposable income to spend this Black Friday. If you simply don’t have it, don’t spend it. You still do not have to feel left out either. Spend the day or weekend doing something great – watch a movie, spend time with a loved one or loved ones, cook yourself a great meal, or something that makes you happy. Hopefully, it is not an expensive and regretful spending spree that gets your ticker going!

·         Take it easy on your plastic and cash as we currently don’t know where interest rates and the economy will go! You will have to pay back every dime you spend on your credit cards plus interests and the interests upon interests! Ellen Cannon, another staff writer from Nerdwallet.com, in her November 1, 2016 article “Best Credit Cards for Black Friday and the Holidays, 2016” reminds us to shop smart with our credit cards and to consider the savings in using store cards, whole-sale club card brands, or regular credit cards as you shop.

·         Think and make a list of things you need rather than things you simply want. Many consumers shop on impulse, totally forgetting about their real needs. Impulse buying can cause post-purchase regret (Kotler & Keller, 2016) to become the highlight of your Black Friday shopping. Therefore, check your inventory of possessions before you decide to shop.

·         Consider the days and weeks after Black Friday, and the upcoming Christmas opportunities for getting bargains. After all, this is not your last chance of the year to get some deals, and good shoppers after all, know how to deal hunt even when it is not a special day of the year. So, if you do not have the currency to get that new appliance or whatever it is this Black Friday, just thank God to be alive!

·         Remember, you work very hard for your money, and deserve the best in customer value – highest level of service, top quality, and good prices – and businesses that treat you as their key asset and believe that the customer is king or honored guest (Weinstein, 2012). Therefore, expect great service as you exercise your buying decisions.

·         Finally, be safe and watch your environment when you go shopping at the malls and plazas. Scan your environment as you enter parking lots and malls, lock your vehicle, do not leave your purchase visible for opportunistic predators, and keep your purses, wallets, and credit cards safe!

References

Cannon, E. (2016). Best Credit Cards for Black Friday and the Holidays, 2016. Nerdwallet.com, November 1, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/best-credit-cards-black-friday-holidays/?trk_app=nw_cc_black_friday&trk_destination=top1&trk_format=article

Jespersen, C. (2016). What to Buy, and Skip, on Black Friday 2016. Nerdwallet.com, October 21, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/black-friday-2016-what-to-buy-skip/

Kotler, P., & Keller, K.L. (2016). A Framework for Marketing Management, 6th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Weinstein, A. (2012). Superior Customer Value: Strategies for winning and Retaining Customers, Third Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Donovan A. McFarlane, M.B.A., M.I.B., Ed.D., is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at donovan@nova.edu

Where did all the Shops go?

The decline of physical shopping experiences has been widely reported across many of the western markets. Consumers in the US and the UK admit to spending roughly 11 hours online each day, and globally around 35% of purchases are made online. This trend is even more evident within younger age groups, and as technology increasingly plays a bigger part in their lives so we should expect to see fewer retail experiences occurring in physical stores and more online. E-commerce continues to grow rapidly, expected to total $334 billion in 2015, and predicted to surge to $480 billion by 2019 according to Forrester Research. Over the past decade, US e-commerce has grown almost 18 percent a year, representing slightly less than 10 percent of total retail sales--some analysts predict a jump to 30 percent by2030. With the accelerating adoption of mobile--today nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone--digital commerce is poised to explode, bringing further changes to retail shopping including a shrinking physical retail footprint. Sears has indicated that it would accelerate the number of store closings during this year, from 130 to 235. RadioShack, which is negotiating with lenders to gain approval to shutter 1,100 stores and has already closed 175 locations in 2014. The past four years has also seen the death of more than two dozen indoor malls, with another 60 hanging in the balance, according to data from Green Street Advisors as was first reported by The New York Times.

According to a Wall Street Journal article ("Shoppers Are Fleeing Physical Stores"), U.S. retailers are facing a steep and persistent drop in store traffic. Shopper visits have fallen by 5% or more from a year earlier in every month for the past two years, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based data firm that records store visits for retailers using tracking devices installed at 40,000 U.S. outlets. Another article ("Where Have all the Shoppers Gone?", FORTUNE, September, 2014), suggests that retailers continue to face a "Darwinian struggle for survival", which will ultimately take down some of the best-known brands. This year's "Black Friday" results confirm the troubling downward path for brick–and--mortar stores, showing a 10.3 percent drop in sales, down from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.4 billion this year. Online sales on the same day grew 14 percent from last year, bringing in a total of $2.72 billion.

The number of buying options available to consumer will continues to grow. As a recent Cisco survey of retail trends discovered, e-commerce has added about 40 possible shopping options for a typical shopper. With the rise of the Internet of Everything (IoE) -- the explosion in networked connections of people process, data, and things -- potential shopping journeys will expand to 800 and beyond. Some of the new options coming into play could include mobile devices equipped for live Web engagements, checkout optimization, mobile payments, wearables, augmented reality, ride-sharing (e.g., Uber same- day delivery launched just over a year ago) and drone delivery.

Finally, consumer discovery is upending the traditional hierarchy of effects model (i.e. awareness---knowledge---liking----preference----conviction----purchase) that has guided marketers for decades and been instrumental in establishing retail brands. For example, unlike traditional advertising, individuals in the social media era have access to content that is not necessarily associated with commercial intent (e.g., to make a purchase); consequently, if a person likes the content, he/she is likely to pass it on to their peers, families, and so on via social sites, then the content will be quickly diffused without the help of traditional marketing.

So, how do you view the prospects of traditional retailers and what do they need to do to survive in the digital age?

William (Bill) Johnson, Ph.D., is a Part-time Participating Faculty in Marketing in the Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. He can be reached at billyboy@nova.edu