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The Black Friday Guide

black friday infographicDo you still think Black Friday happens the day after Thanksgiving? Well, you’re only partially right.

The Black Friday sales that capture the most attention take place the Friday after Thanksgiving. But that big Friday is just part of the shopping chaos. Black Friday is now only part of the holiday shopping season.

Shopping experts say that Black Friday now runs from late October all the way through early December. If you’re waiting to hit the stores until the morning after the turkey, you may miss out on the season’s best values.

Retailers are savvier than ever these days because they have to be. No one’s jolly about the economy; consumers are tighter with their dollars, employers have cut holiday bonuses, and many people are out of work or underemployed. Others are on teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and still others are struggling to avoid losing their house to foreclosure.

Merchants know that they have to pull out all the stops to get consumers to dip into their wallets and purses. The longer Black Friday shopping season is one way to do this.

Christmas Comes Earlier Every Year

Merchants can hardly wait for the last trick-or-treater to ring their doorbells before they start stuffing their aisles with Christmas trees, grinning Santa’s, mistletoe and plastic reindeer. After all, the holiday season is when many retailers traditionally make their profits.

This is how Black Friday got its name. Retailers typically move from the red – meaning financial loss – to the black – meaning profits – during the holiday shopping season. You can take a look at the impact that Black Friday has on merchants by (clicking the infographic) attached to this story. You might be surprised to see just how important Black Friday, as well as the entire holiday shopping season is to most retailers.

Don’t be surprised when you walk into your local mall on Nov. 10 and already see fake snow covering every square inch. And if you should bump into a real live Santa ho-hoing away before the Thanksgiving turkeys have even been sold. There is no reason for a double-take. Retailers want that holiday season to start as early as possible and stretch on and on.

Bargains Available Everywhere

The good news for shoppers, at least for those who can stand the dozens of renditions of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is that (Does every pop star have a Christmas album? We’re waiting for Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore to release a “Jersey Christmas” this year.)

That’s because there’ll be plenty of bargains available for cost-conscious shoppers, even on the trendiest electronics and toys.

Analysts are already predicting that retailers will dangle bargains on iPods, laptop computers, e-readers, and video game systems in an effort to entice the bigger spenders this holiday season. New motion-capture controls for the Playstation, for instance, are expected to be offered at cheaper prices. And those yearning for a new iPad might find them at bargain-basement prices this Black Friday.

Of course, shoppers will have to act fast. Those who know how the Black Friday season works, advise shoppers to pull the trigger quickly if they find a deal that they can’t live without. It’s tempting to wait and hope for even lower prices. But shoppers who do this risk losing that low-cost iPod Touch or that bargain-basement Wii video game system.

But whatever you do, don’t have a blue Christmas if you don’t land that perfect Black Friday gift this year. If you think prices are low the day after Thanksgiving, you should wait until the week after Christmas. Now that’s where the real values wait!

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