Mirror Mirror On the Wall, Which Friday is Blackest of Them All?

Photograph Courtesy of Gina Smith

I’m in a panic because it is November and I have already missed the “first” Black Friday and now am about to miss the “second” Black Friday of the holiday season. I am fascinated by the marketing phenomenon of this year’s “early” Black Friday. “Traditional” Black Friday (I am waiting for the greeting card industry to get in on this one so I have yet another card to send during the year) is, of course as every smart American shopper knows, the day after Thanksgiving. (Another requirement for a greeting card, I rest my case.)

Last year, a few “genius” manufacturers decided to advertise an “early” Black Friday and they scored a home run in sales. In response, this year, many retailers, desperate for business in difficult economic times, started “early” Black Friday advertising (AKA “sales” and “deep discounts”) as early as July.

No wonder parents feel like a pawn in the endless sea of toy and electronic gadget advertising, aimlessly trying to determine which toys will be “the IT toy” of the holiday season. (Hint: Cabbage patch dolls are NOT hot this year!). Not necessarily the most fun toy, but the item that one “must have.” Kids are still determining which toys they “must have” from Santa this year while manufacturers jockey for position to be the “ultimate number one” toy to have in 2010. (Ta Da!)

I am embarrassed to say that as a pediatrician and a parent, I too have succumbed to the pressure of finding the “IT” toy before the item “runs out” and I have to buy it online for ten times the suggested retail price. Of course, suggested retail price is a relative term, determined primarily by the phenomenon of the “sale” price. I’d rather spend $30 on a toy that is “slashed” from the suggested retail price of $60 than actually buy an item that costs the suggested retail price of $30. And if I can find a coupon for $5 off, well, I am in parents’ retail heaven.

Whew, I am sweating at the mere thought of not being able to get the “right toy” so that my child is not an outcast at school for getting that “educational” holiday present (AKA books or “reading material”). Parents (AKA “consumers”) are now used to the annual ritual of fighting for a small supply of the most popular toys (which will surely be determined by a multitude of manufacturing experts writing online articles now that the first two “early” Black Fridays are over so that one may prepare for the “original” Black Friday, followed by the “late” Black Fridays of the holiday season.) Parents are forced by manufacturers to believe that a toy can’t be valuable unless it is in short supply. The aura of a holiday present is not quite the same unless your Santa gets it when other kids’ Santas were unable to find it in time for the holidays! (Of course finding a coupon and a “drastic reduction” in price helps. None of us wants to admit going overboard on holiday presents!).

Of course the unknown deciding factors this year are the holiday movies geared toward children and teenagers. Can one really accurately determine the “best toys of 2010” until after the movies have come out? (Surely they will be released on what will be known as the third and fourth “early” Black Fridays of this year.) That’s a lot for parents to think about (along with internet safety, bullying and underage drinking)!

How is a parent to deal with all of this? Well go on the internet of course! Right after each Black Friday, there will be plenty of retail “experts” writing internet articles telling us which items are the “official” “must have” items for 2010. I have already read ten “Top Ten Toys of 2010” lists online in the time it took me to write this blog post!

For a second there, I toyed with the idea of dawdling enough to get presents at the “the last and final early Black Friday” of 2010, also known as the “Day after Christmas sale,” which I now believe will be called “the first earliest Black Friday of 2011.” Nah…

Last Updated by Dr. Vee on November 26, 2010

One Reply to “Mirror Mirror On the Wall, Which Friday is Blackest of Them All?”

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