Posted by Frugal on 28th November 2010
I “participated” in the Black Friday frenzy again this year, just to survey how retail sales were going. There were many pre-Black Friday sales going on, and I thought the sale this year was going to be soft. Many stores opened very early too, and Walmart even opened 24 hours. Based on my experience at Walmart which had a 3-phase sales (midnight to 5am, 5am to 11am for electronics, etc.), I think Walmart stole quite a lot of sales this year. The 3-phase worked really good, because I found that almost ALL stores couldn’t make more sales, simply because of the capacity of the cashiers, parking lot space, and moving space within the stores. Oh yeah, almost all the retail stores that I went to were that PACKED with people & cars. The 3-phase sales at Walmart spread out different types of crowd somewhat, and many people really liked being able to get their 1st part of buying done (since no other major retail stores were opened at midnight).
Regardless, I also found that most shoppers were extremely price-conscious. I didn’t notice that, until I went to Target and found my $36 Shark Steam Mop from Walmart, priced at $45 at Target, piled up and not moved at all. Looked like everyone has done their comparison already. Yeah, and all those items that were not on sale were not touched mostly. I went to the LEGO aisle that my kids loved most. Almost all legos didn’t get sold, except very few ones that were on sale.
And I’m sorry to report to all the Apple lovers that I don’t see IPads selling. They are well-stocked in all stores, and not moving. In fact, most electronics were not selling a lot. This includes TV, blu-ray players, and even game consoles. In fact, there were so many Wifi-ready players with just an ethernet port, trying to trick buyers to buy them. No, these units won’t stream Netflix wirelessly, and will need a $80 to $130 ethernet-to-wifi adapter, after you pay some $100+ for the blu-ray players.
The only exceptions to electronics are probably mobile phones and low-priced NetBooks. Yeah, I really wanted the $150 NetBook black Friday sale at BestBuy, but it’s all gone probably within minutes when the store opened. With NetBook selling at $150 with 160GB hard drive and SD card slots, it makes triply hard to buy the most basic IPad priced at $500. Oh, I forgot, Apple is not about price, but fashion, as long as our generations stay away from the new frugal reality. Actually, I should use $400 for comparison, because TJMaxx seemed to have this item in extremely limited supply for $400 on Black Friday (if you could bust the door in time).
Anyway, I managed to get the following items this week:
1. A 3-night stay at 4-star Planet Hollywood for $56 per night after tax at Las Vegas, plus 1 free buffet pass. This was just before Thanksgiving, when you can get really good prices without much traffics. During Thanksgiving and Xmas, there are no ways to enjoy yourself, because the lines for buffet are usually 3-hours long, converting your lunch meal to early dinner literally.
2. $89.99 1TB MyPassport portable hard drive, free shipping, bought with $100 BestBuy gift card from Albertson, which gave me a $20 coupon for free grocery, and charged on my ChaseFreedom credit card for 5% cashback (or $5). So I paid about $65 before tax, when the price has gone back up to $150 now. However you can still get this item at Costco for $99.99, but you won’t get any gift card/credit card bonuses.
3. Super-Mario Wii game at Target, regularly priced at $49.99, but got a $10 gift card when bought during Thanksgiving, and I got $5 off coupon, plus 5% off charged on their RedCard (Target’s credit card). So that was like $35, not counting taxes. You could get those $5 off coupon or 10% off coupons at the checkout if you bought anything at Target, just before Thanksgiving.
4. Slave I LEGO construction set, regularly priced at $79.99 everywhere. My son asked this for Christmas, and the only reason that he wants this is that it’s got a special mini-figure Hans Solo frozen in stone. I paid about $57 before tax, because Target had it temporarily on sale for $69.99, plus there is a $10 Target coupon just for LEGO sets, and I charged it on RedCard again for 5% off.
5. $60 Brother Color Inject MFC-J410W Wireless All-in-One at OfficeMax. This one is not a deal, since you can get most wireless printers easily for less than $100 these days. And I’m buying Brother, not HP nor Canon, because the ink cartridges are cheaply available on Amazon or Ebay at less than $1 per cartridge, without me going an extra mile to find out how to refill my own cartridges. Since I won’t print a lot, per page cost matters less to me than per cartridge cost. In the past, usually I spent like $8 to $30 on a cartridge, just to print less than 30 pages, and just to find out that my $30 investment on the cartridge is totally gone and dried up after many idle months. So I think Brother should work for me better.