EDITORIAL: Common sense helpful today

Shoppers need to keep their eyes wide open on Black Friday

Like any good marketing idea, Black Friday caught on fairly quickly in Canada in 2008-09 after giant retailers like Walmart ramped up their offerings and  achieved roaring success south of the border.

Its natural placement, the day following U.S. Thanksgiving, kicked off the Christmas shopping season with a bang, especially since many civil servants have the Friday off in the U.S.

With the opportunity to ride that wave of consumerism, merchants on the West Shore and elsewhere in Greater Victoria have created their own version of Black Friday, sometimes starting sales a week or more ahead of the actual day.

While the logistics of Black Friday don’t quite match up with our Boxing Day – which many residents receive as a paid holiday – the shopping frenzy it has created has overtaken the “gotta-have-it” scenario formerly reserved for the day after Christmas.

A good indication is the thick wad of flyers contained in the Wednesday edition of the Gazette. Outside of the weekly grocery inserts, virtually all contained the words “Black Friday” on the cover.

The business use of the term was coined decades ago in the U.S., in approximate reference to the time of the year when retailers begin to make a profit – thus going into the “black” as opposed to operating in the red.

We’re all for retailers making a profit, especially locally owned operations such as those which have joined the Think Local First Victoria campaign (see page A11). That helps keep our local economy moving.

At the same time, we’re for people saving money. However, not every item offered in a Black Friday sale will be priced at what could be considered a “screamin’ deal.” As with any sales event, smart shoppers should be aware of the regular prices going in and know exactly how much you’re willing to pay for an item.

As you go bargain hunting today, keep in mind that some retailers choose to lowball only certain items as a way to get potential customers in the door.

Whether you’ve camped out ahead of opening time to get in line, or simply walked in to check out potential bargains, remember to let common sense prevail and don’t buy simply because a sign insists you’re getting a great deal.