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November 23, 2012

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I understand that actual investigations into the prices show that a great many of the "black Friday" deals are not particularly good deals, often higher than prices only a few months past. The old practice of marking something up before marking it down seems alive and well.

I have vast reserves of sales resistance, refraining from buying anything today will barely scratch the surface of my capacity to not buy stuff.

Thanksgiving is the bulwark between us and the Christmas merchandising assault spreading all the way back to Labor Day. It's a tattered barrier (which is to say that there are already a few stores which cheerfully start earlier in November), but mostly it is still holding. The creep of "black Friday" sales into the evening of Thanksgiving is just the latest battering the bulwark has received.

The question in my mind is why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to the crush that occurs today. Granted, I'm more introverted than most. But I find it impossible to understand the attraction of standing in long lines to get into a store to buy something which is, at the very most, marginally cheaper than it will be for the entire next month. Do these people really value their time so low?

P.S. I'm wondering if anyone has ever actually observed a store raising its prices on the day following "black Friday." If not, mark it down to just another great piece of marketing hype.

Ben Zimmer talks about the origin of the phrase here, and Mark Liberman talks more about its spread here.

(this is a reposted comment from Sniffnoy)

Hi, either I was too tired or Typepad had some funkiness, and this post was double posted. I've moved a comment from that post to this, any anyone who links to LanguageLog is welcome here!

I have vast reserves of sales resistance, refraining from buying anything today will barely scratch the surface of my capacity to not buy stuff.

I'm totally with Brett on this one.

Brett: "I understand that actual investigations into the prices show that a great many of the "black Friday" deals are not particularly good deals, often higher than prices only a few months past. The old practice of marking something up before marking it down seems alive and well."

I hate to agree with Brett, but I'd believe that. The other thing is that if you look at the micro print under the really good deals, you'll usually see something like '5 per store, no rain checks'. Anybody who's not in the very first several people in line is out of luck.

At last! We have found a topic on which all of us, from across the political specturm, can totally agree on. :-)

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