Stepping Away From the Frenzy

It’s downright madness. Lines wrapping around buildings stretching as far as my poor eyes can see. Hundreds of people literally camped outside on sidewalks and in parking lots with blankets, hot chocolate, and whatever else they need to sustain the blistering cold.

Sometimes a sense of camaraderie would overcome the super savers, that is, until the doors open. Whatever the case may be, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and usually one of the busiest shopping days of the year, has turned into a tradition for some and a bonanza for stores. But those one-day-only, door-busting deals of yore may be a thing of the past this holiday season as retailers have already begun slashing prices with more cuts expected in the weeks following Black Friday.

“We’ve definitely seen retailers coming out with promotions and sales earlier this year,” says Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation. “But [the NRF] still thinks retailers are holding something in their bag of tricks.” Whatever’s in that bag of tricks, it’s making those catch ‘em if you can Black Friday deals less coveted as consumers may be able to get those discounts throughout the holiday season.

And a truncated shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, combined with the absence of an “it” item this season does not bode well for an industry already suffering from the economic slowdown. Retail sales are expected to climb a meager 2.2% this season, Davis says.

What’s my holiday shopping strategy? I’m keeping it simple: no crack of dawn trips to Best Buy.

To save money I’m going to only buy for my immediate family and a couple of little cousins. My mother loves jewelry and JCPenney usually has good in-store sales. Combine that with coupons from the store circular and the savings are huge.

My brother only wants Microsoft points for his X-box and that he shall receive. I think we’re both at the point where less is more and the family time is what really matters.

My dad loves concert DVDs, so I’ll try to find an Isaac Hayes or James Brown disc. The Virgin Megastore usually has bargain concert DVDs, sometimes for under $10. As for my little cousins, they’ll be receiving books ordered from No fuss, no muss.

What’s your holiday shopping strategy? Did you set a budget? Do you plan on hitting up any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales?