Busting Black Friday myths

November 15, 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Over the years, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is considered the launch of the holiday shopping season, has led to almost as many traditions as Turkey Day itself.

Many families have rituals built around Black Friday shopping. But Black Friday traditions also have spurred some myths, says Richard Feinberg, a Purdue University professor of consumer science and retailing.

Here are five of Feinberg's Black Friday myths:

* Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. It's not. It's one of the top five shopping days, but the busiest almost always is the Saturday before Christmas.

* You can get the best bargains on Black Friday. No and yes. Stores will offer a few really great bargains that you cannot get any other time. But these are designed to get people into the store and are in limited supply. You can get great bargains throughout the Christmas buying season, and if you wait, you can get some of the best bargains after the new year.

* Everything is on sale on Black Friday. No. Prices will be lowest for different merchandise at different times before and after Christmas.

* Most people do not like Black Friday shopping. Not true. While some surely aren't enamored of it, many people love it. Feinberg says there is something primal about it. People like to recount their tales of conquest for years afterward, and it becomes part of family mythology.

* People shop on Black Friday just to get the best deals. It's one reason, but not the only one. Consumers are susceptible to "social normative behavior" - we see what others are doing and want to do it, too.

Oh, and Feinberg adds one more myth: The deals are so good you should set up a tent early in the week to be first in line.

"All first in line guarantees is that you will be pushed into the store. That's it," he says.

A full list of Feinberg's Black Friday myths can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/a9aqhx5

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu

Source: Richard Feinberg, 765-497-8301, 765-497-0332 (home), xdj1@purdue.edu

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