The frenzy of holiday shopping started over a month ago, culminating with this week’s Black Friday sales, where an estimated 137.4 million people will shop for something. My father had a lot to say about Black Friday shopping, particularly about those who felt it necessary or were compelled to stand in line for hours waiting on a particular bargain. Last year, I wrote about the distraction that Black Friday brings, especially to those who struggle to ignore what others are doing.
Each of us has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to consumer decision-making, and my research has revealed additional psychological complexities that are at play with respect to the Black Friday shopping extravaganza. Viewing shopping through the lens of individual differences–or personal traits that are unique to each of us–every individual can make his or her own assessment about their ability to participate in and/or successfully navigate the consumer challenge that Black Friday presents. At DataPoints we tie this into financial decision-making and behaviors in general, patterns that can impact financial success, particularly net worth, regardless of your age or income. Understanding your patterns of behaviors and experiences can help you understand how to navigate–or maybe ignore–Black Friday.
First, if you are socially indifferent, you may not be participating at all … you are indifferent to marketing efforts and what others are doing. If you are a millionaire-next-door type, you might be investing this time with friends and family; or perhaps spending some of that time planning and managing your investments.
Retailers have done a great job of subconsciously equating frugality with recreational Black Friday shopping, which is, of course, ridiculous. If you are high on the frugality scale, then you have developed the ability to consistently assess potential purchases in light of your income, budget, and savings objectives, and will be less apt to be drawn in to the frenzy of end-cap and display shopping. Frugal people do this 365–not just the day after Thanksgiving.
Maybe you are not confident in your ability to efficiently assess potential purchases with all the chaos around you. Knowing your standing on this behavioral trait is half the battle, as they say. Bring that trusted friend or family member that has the uncanny fortitude to tell you “no way” when you propose inefficient impulse purchases.
Finally, those high on responsibility will return home at the end of the day and “own” whatever they bought; in other words, they won’t blame the season, salespeople, or those around them for the 65″ flat screen that they just had to have, but maybe didn’t need.
Assessing your strengths, and challenge areas, before you’re in the mall parking lot at 5:30 am, will help you traverse Black Friday without regret.