In 1966 the Philadelphia Police Department coined the term Black Friday to describe the traffic jams and crowding of downtown stores, a description which is still accurate today). This day, although a great day for retailers, has historically been wrought with horrible scenes ending up in the next day’s newspapers. Incidents ranging from near riots outside malls, to robberies and shootings in parking lots, the deaths and injuries of Wal-Mart and Target shoppers being trampled by the deal crazy hordes, and the occasional pepper spraying of crowds (at a Wal-Mart in the San Fernando Valley last year) have unfortunately overshadowed the hunt for bargains associated with Black Friday. These incidents have created a media hype around the crazy consumerism of Black Friday, further fueled this year by Wal-Mart planning to open stores at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day, ahead of most other stores whose openings range from 12 am – 6 am the day after Thanksgiving. These pre-Black Friday sales have not been welcomed by workers at Wal-Mart, who have been on strike, citing low wages and the inability to be at home with their families on the national holiday.
All of this is bad news for those who want to get deals this week, but there is another option. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday where all the deals move online, is now being expanded to the weekend and even to Black Friday itself. If you want those Black Friday deals (or even the Thanksgiving night deals), look no further than your computer screen. Many retailers are rolling out some of the same savings available in-store to those who purchase online, although most are giving the best deals only to those “loyal customers” who are rewards club members or “Like” their company Facebook page. So there is a way to get some of the same deals from the comfort of home instead of waiting in line for hours in the cold and literally risking life and limb for $20 off an Xbox or $100 of a TV. The one catch is that you may have to pay for shipping and handling. For many, buying online is becoming the best deal of the season.