Coping: With Black Friday

The mentions have been slowly building. At first a story here, a mention there. Then, almost suddenly, it is BFM – Black Friday Morning.

There are a couple of schools of thought, but the main thrust of things is the expectation that after all the (fake) drama of the election, people will get up off their wallets and let loose with some “free spending” that will power the year’s financial picture into new all-time highs.

To be sure, there is some validity to it: Yes, people are more hopeful now than they were four or eight yeards ago. Perhaps the result of having a businessman inbound for the White House.

But there are other reasons that more cautious observers will expect a good Christmas season but in terms of best ever?

Here’s where it gets slippery.

How do you measure: Best in terms of fraction of GDP getting spent? Best in terms of highly-inflated dollars? Or best in terms of way-cool new technology?

Add all these factors up and there’s a different view.

Battle of the Giants

We have made many references to the mega-battle of the retailing giants, Wal-Mart and Amazon.

Since we ordered a 55” lower-featured UHD TV from each, it’s worth a short discussion.

The first attempt was to order a 55” Sceptre from Wal-Mart. Although shipping was prompt and the unit as described, it had a problem: Cracked screen when turned on.

In making the return, I found that Wal-Mart has a much faster return process than Amazon because you get the choice of returning an item to the nearest physical store OR you can have the items picked up.

A bit of learning along the way: When you go to Wal-Mart the yellow vests have more clout than other colors.

The second television we ordered (TCL 55US5800 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV (2016 Model) ) from Amazon showed up on-time and worked out of the box.  We really like it so far.

The difference in how the two retailers handle it? The Amazon TV came double-boxed while the Wal-Mart unit was shipped in the retail box. Which means for some consumers another GREAT BIG box to get rid of once the unit has been installed and tested.

What’s unknown is how well the Wal-Mart return desk will function as we get deeper into the holidays and after.

I showed up Wednesday morning for my return a few minutes before 7 AM and there were three people in line behind me by the time things got rolling. The return was quick and hassle-free, but make sure you have you print off a return authorization from the Wal-Mart website first. Takes away the hassle-factor.

Consumption, Sure: But of What?

One of the biggest questions will be what will people be buying?

Electronics seem to have pretty much run their course. How much more MP3 storage, video space, bandwidth and screen size can a person need?

Same problem for Apps. How man actually provide the user some kind of return on investment? The number of Pokemon or Candy Crush millionaires seems rather limited.

Strategic Gifting

This brings up to the strategic objective of gifting. What exactly are you trying to do or say to the recipient of a gift?

I have always favored books and small amounts of money from the National Bank of Dad. One size truly fits all. A person can almost always learn a little something from a book – even fiction – too.

I always like to think what is going through a person’s head and look at what’s going on in their life (we do that with the kids) and with rare exceptions, money is always a good answer.

Second Christmas, Third Christmas

Every year at this time I put forward my pitch for three Christmas’s per year. The first, obviously, is today. Seems a shame to have gifts sitting around taking up space for a month while software is aging, and so forth.

Second Christmas would be the one that is based on Biblical teachings. It would be nice to get back to the core idea of just being nice to one another without turning it into a retailing excuse.

Third Christmas would come in late January. This would be a fine time to hold a second Retailing Event because everything is on sale. Time to clear out the 2016 product to make room for the 2017 versions…

And so the case for three events – each having something to do with Christmas – seems prettry clear.

Other retailing events happen throughout the year with perhaps the most trite of all being the “Christmas in July” sales.

No time to dwell on that…we can revisit that come summer.

In the meantime, happy clicking.

I’m so old I can remember when Santa had a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Now, it’s mostly pulled by mice.

Write when you get rich,

9 thoughts on “Coping: With Black Friday”

  1. Hi, George,
    it is interesting to note that the Walmart TV came in the retail box which was meant to be packed tightly in a shipping container, and then secured on a skid, and the skid deconsolidated in the store.
    Meanwhile the Amazon package was double boxed and designed to secure the package in transit individually. In other words Amazon is not wasteful, just different. They use recyclable materials and cardboard packaging which prevents breakage and hopefully reduces returns. I know they use recyclable materials because I have bought from them in the past.

  2. Hi George…
    About gifts. Really difficult to find something suitable for most of the family members. So I took meself down to the corner precious metals store and bought each on my list a this-year’s 1oz silver round. Something for Just-in-case or as a keepsake, as paper money of sorts tends to get spent right away.
    Anyhow–just a thought.

  3. I remember when the rule of thumb was to NEVER have electronics shipped to your door due to the high risk of damage from point A to point B. It’s fair to say electronics haven’t gotten any more durable and that -if anything- shipping clerks and delivery drivers have become even more casual in their daily routines… so, I’d say that old rule of thumb still prevails. Want to avoid the hassles of returning damaged goods? Buy them IN PERSON right off a store shelf. It may not totally eliminate the risk of a faulty unit, but it certainly mitigates it. Having said that, I too have ordered electronics from both WalMart and Amazon [2 PC’s and several DVD players/recorders] and never had an issue – especially with Amazon who do indeed double-box their shipments. But whenever viable I buy in person…. blame my compulsive need for instant gratification!

  4. In this time of consumer saturation, we have moved in a different direction. For the last few years, we have gone to very personalized, hand-made gifts. Hand woven fabrics and hand-made items. They are extremely well received.

    Just food for thought…

  5. Three Christmases?

    I’m Baptist so I’ll bow to your Lutheran background for knowledge of the liturgical year but as we do it:
    1. Advent Sunday is this weekend
    2. Christmas comes but once a year but it lasts 12 days, remember? And it falls on Sunday this year!
    3. The season doesn’t really end until Epiphany (Three Kings Day).

    There. Satisfied?

    Art in Huntsville

    • Reminds me why we are getting fatter as a nation. Extended holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving. It’s worse for men, because women get to finish their holiday gnoshing in time for New Year’s resolutions, but men have to keep putting on the poundage until Super Bowl Sunday.

  6. Just and FYI regarding all those fabulous “deals” at the retailers, both online and store fronts around town. I didn’t bother to go out and look at anything until about 4 pm. Everything I had considered getting (a smattering of recent videos I liked/wanted to own for a while now, and some cheap kid pj’s- short list, I know) was still there in quantity. I didn’t see crazy lines or too terrible attitudes while there. Target seemed a bit crowded, but overall, they still had all their “doorbuster” items. Guess those great deals really weren’t what people want after all. Retailers have failed big time, and I don’t think the consumer base is quite so predictable anymore. Just my two cents.

Comments are closed.