The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. has in recent decades been dubbed "Black Friday," in part because of the inconvenience of crowds and traffic jams on this major shopping day, and secondarily because it kicks off the season in which retailers are said to go "into the black" - that is, achieving a profit for the year after months of losses. It is the unofficial but widely recognized start of the Christmas shopping season. As I type these words, people on the east coast of the U.S are undoubtedly preparing to line up outside their store of choice, for the purpose of taking advantage of one-day-only bargains, or just to get a jump on Christmas shopping. My question to you this week is therefore a fairly obvious one:
Weekend Assignment #244: The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is widely believed to be the biggest shopping day of the year. Do you typically shop for holiday gifts on that day? If so, why? Is this year any different in that respect?
Extra Credit: Is there a particular bargain you are pursuing this year? If so, what is it?
Shopping patterns have probably changed in recent years, with many more retailers offering loss-leaders and other deals on Black Friday than they used to, providing an incentive to start shopping on that specific day. But for many years, it seemed to me that most of the crowds were on the last Saturday before Christmas, and on up until the stores closed on Christmas Eve. I suspect that I would see more shoppers on Black Friday now (well, maybe not this year) than I did in my record store retailing days, but 20 years ago that was the dynamic.
But except for the occasional items purchased during the year that I won't be able to buy later, such as merchandise from Disneyland, I don't typically buy any presents until mid-December. For one thing, there have been many years in which I had to wait for a last-minute Christmas bonus before I could afford to buy stuff, or even know how much I had to spend. For another, I personally find it hard to get into Christmas mode before December arrives. For a third, I just don't like the the social pressure of being expected to shop on a certain day. (Silly, I know.)
This year, I know pretty much for a fact that I won't have a job until Boxing Day at the earliest, and possibly not even then. If I get the position I'm up for, there will be a delay in my actually starting work. But if I get that good news, I will probably buy a modest number of gifts for John, my dad and brother and stepmother and put them all on a credit card, and feel guilty about it, and pay them off ASAP. If I don't, that plan will be scaled back. But even if I get the job offer on Black Friday itself, I'm unlikely to buy anything on that day.
That said, I know that John is planning to buy himself a present on Black Friday. He's been limping along for years with an early iPod that doesn't work very well, and doesn't seem terribly compatible with recent Mac operating systems. Friday there's a one-day sale on recent models, and he's been debating between a low-feature, high storage model and an iPod Touch. I've wanted to give him a new iPod at every Christmas and birthday for the past two or three years, and it looks as though he's finally going to give in to spending the money. But he wouldn't do it if there weren't a deep Black Friday discount*, and if he weren't expecting a decent bonus. I don't get the pleasure of buying it for him, but I'll live! After all, I bought myself the Doctor Who Series Four DVD set this month.
*Turns out it's not so deep, and he's dithering.
Your turn! Tell us about your Black Friday shopping habits, and any 2008 variations thereon. Write about this in your blog along with a link back here, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below. I'll be back in a week with a roundup of your responses. Here are the ones from last week:
For Weekend Assignment #243: Breakfast, I asked what you like to eat for breakfast. Here are the delicious results:
Well, there's a matter of what I like to eat, and what I should be eating. Most mornings it's the latter, meaning a bowl of "good for you" cereal. High-fiber, low-sugar, that sort of thing. And let's not forget the coffee. I used to not be able to stand the stuff, but I learned to like it about a decade ago.
My contribution to both is my super easy, unbelievably delicious, and very inexpensive recipe for Monkey Bread. It's great for a yummy holiday treat, but easy enough to make anytime!John said in comments...
My all-time favorite breakfast is a bagel and cream cheese with the Sunday NY Times. When we lived in Brooklyn, this was easy -- you could pop down to a nearby bagel store in almost any neighborhood. In Rhode Island, we have to make do with Dunkin Donuts bagels and the Boston Globe. But we still do it most weeks.
Rest of the time I either skip breakfast or have a bowl of Raisin Bran.
Within the last year, I've become a regular oatmeal eater despite my undying affection for cold cereal; it stays with me longer, which is desirable since I eat breakfast around 6:15 AM and I try not to break for lunch before 1:00 (a later lunch leaves less of the workday to get through after it), and those packets provide built-in portion control. I do mix some cold cereal - and fruit, when strawberries are available - into my oatmeal to make it a little less boring, though. I'll start on my coffee during breakfast, but it comes with me on the way to work, and I've usually finished it by the time I get there.Mike said...
To be honest, I'm not much of a breakfast person. Mostly because I am too lazy to get up early enough to eat breakfast. If I am working, I get up with just enough time to shower, shave (maybe), get some lunch together (again, maybe), and head out the door. Any extra time that I think I might have in the morning is spent in bed. I work out calculations in my head as the alarm goes off to see how many times I can hit snooze before I definitely have to get up.That's it for now! Busy as I'm sure you are, what with the shopping and all, I hope you'll take the time to participate this week. Write about up the assignment in your blog or journal, and include a link back here. Then leave a link to your entry in the comments below. Please don't forget your links! I'll be back in a week to highlight the results.
A reminder: I'm still running low on ideas here, so I need your input. What would you like to see as a Weekend Assignment topic? Email me your suggestions (mavarin at aol.com). If I use your topic you'll get full credit and my undying thanks.