The holiday season is almost upon us, and we’re all starting to feel the holiday spirit. It’s a time to unwind and celebrate, for sure, but it is also a time when many people make mistakes that can cost them a lot of money.
This year, the well-known shopping event, or ‘Superbowl of Spending,’ Black Friday, will fall on November 25th. Black Friday sees major retailers offer more deals, more discounts, and more surprises in order to attract customers to impulse buy their products and kickstart their holiday shopping.
This American shopping tradition dates back decades, and last year US consumers spent $8.9 billion online during this now notorious day of discounts.
Yet, against the backdrop of global economic instability, discussions regarding the effects of increasing inflation on holiday shopping habits are abound, and many economists believe that this year’s holiday season spending will reflect this. PissedConsumer conducted a Black Friday survey to illustrate the shopping intentions of customers for the sales season this year.
- What are the shoppers' plans on Black Friday?
- What drives consumers to the stores?
- Black Friday is not just discounts
- How to save money on Black Friday?
What are the shoppers' plans on Black Friday: Survey results
In a recent survey*, PissedConsumer.com sought to gather shopper opinions on various aspects of the Black Friday and overall holiday shopping experience and determine what shoppers see to be the main pros and cons of the annual shopping safari.
Consumer voices reflect the economists’ predictions, with Black Friday spending estimated to shrink from that of the previous year:
A downward trend is also signposted in consumer answers to the question, ‘Do you plan to shop on Black Friday this year?’ 6.6% stated that they used to shop on Black Friday, but have no intention to repeat that this year:
With that outlook in mind, let’s take a deeper look at Black Friday, and more importantly, how this event plays on the minds of consumers and their shopping behaviors.
What drives consumers to the stores on Black Friday?
The behaviors and motivations of shoppers have been an object of interest for sociologists, market research analysts, and psychologists for as long as mass consumption has been a thing.
Psychological studies have shown that the act of shopping has traditionally fulfilled various emotional needs such as intimacy, self-presentation, social validation, and sensory stimulation. Collectively, these serve a fundamental psychological need, that is, the need to feel a sense of belonging and connectedness with others.
This is reflected in the behavior of consumers, who derive pleasure from getting their hands on a bargain, and often from trading long-term benefits for short-term satisfaction when making their purchasing decisions.
Recent research suggests that consumers are motivated to buy when it’s anticipated beforehand that prices will rise in the future. This sort of anticipatory pricing persuades people to indulge now because their indulgences might be more expensive in the future and reassure them that they are preserving their finances.
The positive psychology behind participating in Black Friday shopping is not black or white…
…but does give plenty of opportunities for marketers to think about how they can provide more tempting offers to consumers.
And while such psychological factors are consistently relevant, when looking at why Black Friday seems to be attracting fewer numbers to the stores this year, it’s crucial to consider the negative impact of the current economic uncertainty as well as world events on consumer behavior and decision-making processes.
Black Friday is not just discounts – it's also notorious for fighting crowds
Consumer reviews are now regarded as the best source to find out about the quality of a product or service a company is providing. After browsing through online reviews and social media posts, consumers can gain a sense of what living with their purchase will be like.
Hence, review platforms are highly influential in the consumer purchasing process, so it’s unsurprising that 81.8% of the Holiday shopping survey participants said that negative reviews would sway their choice.
Notably, when asked whether they consult online reviews before heading to the stores, a huge 84.6% of surveyed answered positively:
…with the bulk using Google or Amazon as sources for consumer reviews:
When asked why they participate in the Black Friday sales, as expected, the majority of responses (65.4%) cited the quality of the discounts and deals:
A significant number (15.4%), although maybe fewer than expected, put forward the fear of missing out as the main driver for their Black Friday expedition.
Habit, sense of occasion, and following the crowd play a part in positive responses too:
- “This is a family tradition”
5.2% are regarding the day as a traditional event, and 6.4% are saying “everyone does this”.
Not everyone gets sucked into the race for bargains. Many of the consumers who were surveyed in the Black Friday study reported instincts tempered by belt-tightening and general financial concerns, shunning what they see to be frivolous, reckless spending; citing inflation (8.4%), artificially raised prices pre-discounting (15.5%), and retailer manipulation of shoppers (24.3%):
- “Because of inflation, realtor's manipulate shoppers, and realtors raise prices to make you think you are getting a good deal when in fact you probably at most save 50 cents. [...] No, Black Friday is not for me, nor Cyber Monday! I'll do my shopping online!”
And what some classify as excitement, others (18.1%) consider to be unnecessary stress:
- “Not worth the sales price to fight the crowd.”
- “It’s not worth being pushed, shoved, and fighting over products, I’d rather pay regular price for it and not have to deal with all that mess, plus I don’t want to get sick with all those people around.”
- “It’s easier to shop online.”
- “Because there’s still Covid out there and some people are not vaccinated.”
How to save money, stay safe, and find the best deals
With so many offers vying for your attention and hard-earned cash, you need to have a strategy to stop yourself from getting overwhelmed by it all. This strategy should involve researching prices and checking online reviews for products and vendors beforehand to reduce the nasty surprises and reduce stress on a day full of potential pitfalls.
While we are all vulnerable to being enticed by sales ads, it is important that we evaluate our shopping motives beforehand so our purchasing decisions come from a place of intentionality rather than impulsiveness.
Be aware of cross-sells and upsells
Retailers will use a variety of tactics to lead customers to believe they are getting a good price. For instance, a lot of vendors will combine a popular product with a not-so-popular one. While shoppers might think they are getting a wonderful price, they might instead find themselves burdened with a product they don't need.
The same is true if a customer is presented with an identical item before finishing the purchase. Before checking out, be sure to consider whether you actually need that item in your basket.
Stick to a budget and make a shopping list
Making your shopping list and establishing your spending limit in advance is always the best thing you can do to prepare for holiday shopping.
The sooner you make a list of the things you want to buy, the sooner you can search for discounts. Prepare now by getting wise to anchor prices so you'll be better able to spot a discount when you encounter one and avoid poorly judged impulse purchases.
Set price alerts
It's a good idea to conduct your own research and figure out your price range before looking at more expensive items. Set price alerts for products on your shopping list and you'll get an email when the price drops, allowing you to take advantage of a great deal before it sells out.
Always keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is
You might encounter scammers on social media, in emails, or on the other end of dubious phone calls during the holiday shopping season as they intensify their efforts. Regarding these chancers, use extreme caution and keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Additionally, exercise caution whenever asked for personal information. It is always best to err on the side of caution if you have even the slightest doubt about legitimacy.
And to sum up, don’t forget to:
- Keep an eye out for coupons and promo codes from different stores and websites.
- Check out both in-store and online deals to see if there are any differences in prices.
- Look for deals that offer free shipping or free returns, as these can save you money in the long run.
*PissedConsumer.com conducted this survey of over 500 U.S. consumers online between Oct. 5 - 19, 2022.
1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
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