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Black Friday: More full of crap than you previously thought
Posted by Drew at 2007-11-20 8:34:45 AM, edited 2007-11-20 9:02:49 AM (140 comments) | Permalink
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15507 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Nov 2007 at 1:34 PM (10 years ago) | | share: more»
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It's that time of year again: the drowsy week of Thanksgiving. Pretty much everyone takes the week off. Those of us that don't take the week off just assume that nothing's going to get done and collect a paycheck for sitting around doing nothing at work. Mass media is like that too, as a result we get a flurry of Black Friday articles, just like every year.
As you probably noticed, about a week ago, everyone from Amazon to Wal-Mart got a free articletisement in the mainstream press about which products they plan to mark down and clear out this year. Of course, this does you no good unless you're willing to get up at the crack of dawn and get in line about 5am (or for some stores, even earlier - some of these doorbusters actually begin at 4am this year). As good as these deals supposedly are, you won't find a lot of quality merchandise in these sales. Almost every product with a huge markdown on Black Friday falls into two categories:
1: Items for which the manufacturer has paid a big premium to the retailer to be the first thing the store's media liaison mentions when media comes calling for quotes about the sales, or
I covered all this in my book in the chapter on Seasonal Articles, which you can get at pretty much any bookstore (although I suspect not at bargain prices at 5am... Amazon has it down to about $13 though (new window)). For those who didn't read it, Seasonal Articls are articles that appear at the same time every year, essentially unchanged from last year. Another favorite Thanksgiving article is the annual There Will Be Traffic On Thanksgiving This Year (duh) observation from AAA, which was on CNN.com's main page last year but thankfully barely registered more than a backpage article this year.
(By the way, look forward to the annual How The Hell Much Do The 12 Days of Christmas Cost This Year? article, due up sometime next week as if this is relevant to anyone)
I mention this not to rehash old material, but to point out something I've been wondering lately:
What percentage of these Black Friday deals are getting bought by people solely for resale on eBay?
I suspect it's very high.
Last year, the hot product was the Playstation 3. There were lines around the block at every store that had them. Playstations sold out across the US. How many people do you know that have them? And out of those people, how many got one for Christmas last year? Hardly anyone, I'm sure. The entire supply was purchased by people looking to sell them on eBay.
As for this year? Go to any online or brick-and-mortar electronics store you can think of. See if you can find a Nintendo Wii for sale. No one has them. Now go on eBay and do a search. Holy crap what a miracle! There's thousands of them -- all going for a couple hundred dollars more than list price (although to appear more appealing, the chargers are hidden in absurd shipping and handling costs).
The good news, I suspect, is that Nintendo is probably going to play the spoiler here and drop ship millions of Wiis into stores before Christmas. They've had a year to plan this, they know demand will be high. Hilarity will ensue.
It all leads me to wonder though, how many more years of Black Friday sales will we have before retailers realize that they're only catering selling to eBay resellers? Or will they even care as long as they continue to get their free articletisement the week before Thanksgiving?
At any rate, have a great Thanksgiving everyone, even you godless heathen Canadians and your superior currency, and you Brits who started celebrating Christmas three weeks ago
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