NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Black Friday is around the corner, marking the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
“This last-minute advertising strategy helps make the Friday after Thanksgiving a big event,” said Carla Freberg, sales manager with Balboa Capital. “There’s the element of surprise for shoppers since they don’t know what’s going to be on sale until Friday morning.”
But the Friday after Thanksgiving isn’t always when the best deals are. Twitter Wednesday, the new made-up holiday that promotes shopping in advance of Thanksgiving, may allow you to find more steals and deals.
The Empty Promises of Black Friday
“Black Friday is best for saving money on specific items,” said Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think. “Retailers typically choose one or two items and offer a deep discount on them to lure shoppers into the store and those one or two items are usually in very limited supplies. Once they’re gone they are gone.“
In 2013, Americans spent some $57 billion the weekend after Thanksgiving, and for many of them, those purchases led to more debt, higher monthly credit card payments and even financial ruin.
“Stay away from campaigns that say 'while supplies last' or “through midnight only,'” Siebold told
. “This is a good indication that quantities are low to begin with and the deals are on a few specific items.”
Even when retailers advertise a product for 40% off, they’re typically still making a profit, because the discount was already priced into the product.
“Don’t forget that suppliers sell to retailers at a very low cost and retailers mark up the prices significantly,” Siebold said.
The Twitter Factor
Cyber Monday, of course, is the Monday after Thanksgiving when retailers promote as a day to find bargains online, but Twitter Wednesday is growing in popularity as well by anticipating deals in advance of Thanksgiving.
“Wednesday is the biggest day for conversation around deals and sales and shows the most amount of mentions of #deals, #savings and #coupons,” said Russ Laraway, director of small business sales with Twitter. Twitter can help shoppers pinpoint immediate savings and specific deals with hashtags placed before keywords or phrases to categorize tweets.
“If a business is having a sale on shoes, they might use #shoe #sale or #shoesale and by clicking on the hashtag you are given a list of all other tweets that reference those keywords, allowing you to view similar deals,” Laraway told Mainstreet.
Some retailers and brands even post promo codes on Twitter to use when purchasing items online.
“There’s no need to print or clip,” Laraway said. “Just search, click and save.”
Everything in Moderation, Despite Social Push
In addition to bargain tweets, decorations, holiday music and savvy retail marketing campaigns make it difficult for most consumers to resist overspending. Just because you're caught up in the holiday spirit through social media deals doesn't mean you have to overspend.
“Holiday films that portray the joy of shopping, wrapping presents and getting rewarded by family fuels the societal pressure to make that screen story an ever bigger reality,” said Dr. Jeannette Raymond, licensed psychologist and author. “Those who opt out feel like the Grinch, and that is difficult to endure.”
To avoid overspending this holiday season, Raymond suggests keeping feelings of grandiosity in check. “It's hard to stop if you are already on a spree,” Raymond told MainStreet. “Put limits on credit cards prior to leaving the house and restrict the amount of time and money you’re spending on the internet shopping.”
Listing consequences of going over your limits on a piece of paper that’s displayed near your computer can also serve as a reminder. Just remember to bring the list with you when you shop in person.
—Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet