Is Black Friday shopping really worth it?

The day after Thanksgiving, often called Black Friday, is the biggest shopping holiday of the year for many Americans.

Shopping on this day is an annual ritual for many families. It gives them to chance to score special promotions and discounts from retailers and the opportunity to shop together with family members visiting for Thanksgiving.

Also, it is a great time to shop for holiday presents, with Christmas arriving a month later.

But some shoppers may wonder whether the annual sales bonanza is worth the hype. Here’s how to determine whether Black Friday shopping is really worth it.

[Read: 9 Products You Should Wait Until Black Friday to Buy]

Why You Should Shop on Black Friday

One of biggest attractions of shopping on Black Friday is doorbusters. These are specially discounted items to get people in the door at big-box retailers.

Popular doorbusters are not just deals on electronics, such as televisions, laptops, wearable devices and game consoles, but also include shoes, tool sets, toys and apparel.

Doorbusters are often priced so attractively that they are below cost. Retailers see the losses on doorbusters as a marketing expense for getting shoppers in the door.

As with any other marketing expense, retailers budget for the cost of doorbusters by limiting the quantity of items available. Additionally, to spread shopping throughout the day, retailers will often have different doorbusters at various times.

Shopping on Black Friday is therefore especially exciting with the thrill of finding amazingly priced doorbusters countered by the always looming possibility that the doorbuster is sold out beforehand.

Even with shopping, the sweetest victories are the ones narrowly snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Since Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, it is a great day to shop together with visiting family members and enjoy the chase and thrill of deal hunting with a family member.

The bonding and camaraderie that comes with the shared mission of hunting for favorite doorbusters, enjoying the highs and lows, make for better bonding than any corporate team-building exercise. We are all brothers and sisters on Black Friday.

[See: 12 Shopping Tricks to Keep You Under Budget.]

Why to Avoid Shopping on Black Friday

Shopping on Black Friday shopping has some downsides.

For some shoppers, doorbusters are more frustrating than thrilling. The stress of fighting through crowds, waiting in line and possibly not even getting the item before it is sold out makes for more aggravation than thrill for some.

Therefore, Black Friday shopping struggles to be a bonding or team-building experience if the frustration exceeds the excitement.

The true savings from shopping for doorbusters on Black Friday are modest when weighed against the time and hassle involved.

This would be evident if a shopper were to calculate the cost of driving to the mall, finding parking, searching through the aisles and waiting in line to save a few dollars.

[See: 10 Money-Saving Websites to Check Before Shopping.]

Is Black Friday Shopping Worth It During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

There is an extra level of stress around shopping on Black Friday this year, with the coronavirus outbreak possibly surging again.

Going to the mall or big-box retailer does mean crowds, standing close to people in lines and handling items that may have been touched by dozens of other shoppers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers Black Friday shopping at crowded stores a higher risk activity and recommends shopping online rather than in person.

As a result, retailers are encouraging shoppers to shop earlier to avoid crowds, and are emphasizing their online sales and promotions even more. Also, doorbuster promotions are now spread out over a greater number of days and weeks instead of just on Black Friday.

With all that, the trend toward online shopping is increasingly accelerated this year. Shopping online has many advantages, starting with the most fundamental fact of not having to leave home. Online shoppers don’t have to drive, hunt for a parking space or encounter crowds or anyone at all.

Also, when shopping online, it takes just a few clicks to find deals and compare prices. And best of all, it is easy to find online coupons and cashback for extra savings.

Objectively, online shopping will get you better deals with easy price comparisons, coupons and cashback, and with less time and hassle.

The Bottom Line on Black Friday Shopping

In general, Black Friday shopping is worth it if the thrill of deal-hunting and bonding with family members exceeds the stress and aggravation of shopping on that day.

The stress of fighting through crowds, waiting in line and possibly missing out on the deal before it is sold out can bring out the fight or flight response. For those who find Black Friday shopping a thrill and bonding experience, there is nothing quite like it.

For the rest of us, the stress, extra exposure risk, short-term monetary savings and true time and hassle make Black Friday shopping not worth it. Overall, shop on Black Friday for the thrill and camaraderie, not for your pocketbook.

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