REUTERS/Carlo AllegriBlack Friday isn't all it's cracked up to be.
While the day after Thanksgiving has long been considered the biggest shopping day of the year, in recent years Black Friday has lost its luster. And shoppers are catching on.
Last year, Black Friday sales fell 12% to $10.2 billion compared to a year before, according to ShopperTrak. Looking at the entire four-day weekend, brick-and-mortar retail sales fell by 10.4%, to $20.4 billion last year.
Here are seven reasons why you should feel free to kick back and skip the lines on Black Friday this year.
Many Black Friday deals simply aren't worth it.
While there are some opportunities to save money on Black Friday, you can often find some of the most popular Black Friday items at lower prices at other times during the year, according to Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com.
James says fitness equipment and winter clothing will always be cheaper later in the winter, with fitness deals peaking in January and winter apparel prices plummeting as the weather gets warmer. Toys are actually significantly less expensive nine to 10 days before Christmas. And, though you may see dozens of television deals, now isn't the best time to get a new TV.
"The problem is the brands you’ll find on sale are typically unrecognizable," James said. "If you’re a college student and looking for a disposable TV from Best Buy for your dorm room you’ll want to head out Black Friday morning. If you’re looking for a quality TV that will hold up for the long run, you’ll want to look for deals right after Christmas through Super Bowl Sunday."
Doorbusters are overrated.
Doorbusters are those heavily-hyped deals retailers offer on a limited number of products for a brief period of time. But those go really fast.
"If you're walking into the store at 8am on Black Friday looking for a very limited 'doorbuster' deal, you'll think it's completely overrated as the door-busters will be long gone," James said.
If you're into doorbuster deals, you need to be strategic and arrive early to claim the items you want. Otherwise, you'll probably miss the deals and end up spending more money on items you hadn't intended to buy.
Retailers sell the same things every year.
Stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart recycle the same deals — down to the prices — year after year, the Wall Street Journal reported. As a result, there's little to look forward to for Black Friday regulars.
"It’s as if they aren’t putting any time or effort into the Black Friday circulars, and just expect people to come out and shop no matter what," Ashlee Jackson told the Journal.
It's no longer the biggest shopping day of the year.
Black Friday used to be the day that officially kicked off the holiday shopping season. But in recent years, retailers have started their Black Friday sales earlier in the month in order to attract more shoppers. As a result, the appeal of Black Friday has diminished.
"Black Friday historically has been such a great shopping day," Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of the mall operator CBL, recently told CNBC. "It's lost its luster because we've diluted it."
RetailNext, a firm that tracks retail shopper traffic, is predicting that the biggest shopping day of the year this year in terms of sales will be Friday, December 23 — just two days before Christmas.
Shopping can actually be dangerous.
According to the website Black Friday Death Count, seven people died and 98 were injured in Black Friday-related accidents from 2006 to 2014. Dangers include stampedes, fights, and falling asleep while driving home from shopping due to lack of sleep.
Black Friday has become a weeklong event.
These days, many stores begin Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving and sales continue through Cyber Monday. Friday isn't necessarily the best day to shop.
James said some of the best sales can actually be found before Thanksgiving.
"The early bird does indeed get the worm," he said. "By 'early bird,' I’m not talking about being the first one through the doors on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. I’m talking about shopping on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Black Friday and scoring a deal."
You can get deals shopping from home.
Last year, Americans spent more than $3 billion on Cyber Monday, an increase of 16% from the prior year. You can find even better deals for certain items, including tech and apparel, on Monday without even having to leave your house.
Still, you don't need to ditch Black Friday altogether if you're a dedicated bargain shopper.
"If you shop smart and seek the real Black Friday deals like clearance apparel, budget laptops, small kitchen appliances, pots and pans, and video games, the day provides a great opportunity to save some money," James said.