Yes, it’s that time of year again. When shoppers, looking for the best deal possible to give as a gift to loved ones this holiday season, willingly trample, push, pepper spray, or shoot others in an effort to secure the perfect present.
Count me out. I hate crowds, and don’t think bodily harm to others adds much to the holiday spirit. To each his or her own, I suppose. For others, nothing says the holidays have started like a bit of blood sport, apparently.
Several websites have cobbled together the best apps for finding bargains on Black Friday. I use a slightly different method. Having worked retail during the holiday season before, I’ve learned a few things. One, the bargains on Black Friday are good, but if you are looking for something that isn’t that unusual–a throw, a cashmere sweater, etc.–chances are, it will go on even deeper discount in a week or so. Two, the holidays are easier to enjoy when you aren’t tending to injuries received when attempting to shop.
Nevertheless, some will insist on shopping this weekend. More power to you–you’ll need it. Here’s a suggested methodology.
Step 1: Login to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Step 2: Scan each social network for the highest common number of “check-ins” cross-posted from FourSquare or Gowalla by your friends. Also note any retailers mentioned in status updates.
Step 3: Make a list–writing it on paper is fine, no need to go all high-tech here–starting with the venues with the most check-ins/status updates/Tweets down to the least number. This is your “avoid” list. These stores have been so packed all day, by the time you get there the bargains will have run out. This is what happens when you read blogs and check out Facebook during such critical hours.
Step 4: Cross-reference this list with your holiday shopping list. Circle any items that are exclusive to the stores on list in Step 3. Those gifts will have to wait until the stores re-stock anyway.
Step 5: Identify any items that can be purchased at local retailers. Go today. Our odd need to purchase items dictated only on days identified by marketers as the days we *should* purchase these items means everyone getting pepper-sprayed at a big box today will be buying local tomorrow, on “small business Saturday.” If you go today, you’ll (theoretically) avoid the crowds and might actually find what you are looking for.
Step 6: Any items missed in Step 5 can probably be purchased online. If you feel the need to adhere to the marketing dictates, wait until “cyber Monday” to purchase. If you are a free spirit or rebel, go ahead and purchase it today. Or tomorrow. Or Sunday, or next Tuesday. Whatever.
Good luck shoppers, and come back (safely) to read Media Bullseye on Monday–we’ll be posting an interview with David Meerman Scott that might give you a terrific gift idea for the communications and PR pros on your gift-giving list.