College News

Black friday – the good, the bad and the ugly

October came and we complained about how early retailers and shopping centres had their decorations up, but the month of October left just as quickly and then followed November to remind us that Christmas is in fact not as far away as we may like to have thought. 
It is suddenly the end of November and Christmas party invites are floating around the office, that friend you’ve promised to meet up with numerous of times has suggested to do so before the holidays kick in and you find yourself asking since when was practically everyone you know born during the month of December? 
With one month to go until Christmas you realise a to-do list is necessary to fit in all the festive activities and with lots of people to buy for, you might now be rattling your brains about where to start looking and when you’re going to find the time to do the oh-so stressful seasonal shopping.
Black Friday has been a huge hit in America for years, but now shoppers on this side of the pond can look forward to a day of massive reductions as more Irish retailers become involved in the annual shopping bonanza.
It is now one of the most successful day for sales in Ireland with Realex Payments releasing transaction figures which show a 17.5% increase in transaction volumes on Black Friday last year compared with the same day in 2013 as 900,406 online transactions worth €111.6 million were processed.
This year is expected to be no different with many retailers taking part in the popular price drops today.
There are plenty of retailers in Ireland offering great deals and just some of these include, Amazon, Argos, ASOS, Boots, Carphone Warehouse, Currys, Debenhams, Easons, Gamestop, Harvey Norman, Homebase, Lidl, Littlewoods, M&M Direct, Marks & Spencers, River Island, Smyths Toys, Tesco and Xtra Vision.
Some may see it as the ideal way to get the presents out of the way as prices drop significantly and we all love a bargain at such an expensive time of the year. It can be the perfect solution to saving money while ticking items off the shopping list before December hits like a bad cold.
Some advice to the stressful shopper, however, it may not be for you and therefore may not be the best idea. If you are the type of shopper to get easily flustered and impatient in a busy shop, tightly packed with enthusiasts who are determined to make it to the checkout no matter who they knock down in the process, then I advise to stay clear of venturing out to the Black Friday sales. 
Instead, opt for the much easier option. The option that allows you to kick off your shoes and rest your feet, hassle free and stress free. The wonderful world of online shopping. 
With many online retailers such as Amazon and ebay and clothing lines such as River Island and ASOS, offering major reductions across different products, you won’t be stuck for choice. 
Your shopping basket isn’t going to become the biggest obstacle barely manageable to avoid in a narrow aisle, it’s simply an icon which you click and all your selected items show up in one place. The checkout experience doesn’t consist of a struggle to make it to the queue with all your hair left on your head, followed by what feels like the longest 20 minute wait of your life, it is as simple as clicking ‘checkout’ and entering your card details.  
The total cost that the items in your basket amount to appear before you checkout online – an option much easier than acting as a human calculator with a rough estimate that is completely overruled when the cashier at Penneys tells you the total amount and you use the counter as support for fear of fainting. Yes, all of those small prices do add up.
The ‘Click-and-collect’ option proved to be a popular feature of online retail during the 2014 festive season as you can buy the product from the comfort of your own home and collect it from said store at your convenience. A win-win situation which the demand for is set to rise this year, with IMRG predicting a 20% growth in it’s popularity per year. 
If you are the type who loves shopping, and the thought of being the first to the checkouts in a rushed sea of fellow shopaholics excites you, then by all means hit the shops and make the most of the deals that will  be available exclusively today. Advice here would be to get in early and have an idea of what you want to purchase. Once you’re in, it is a case of every man for himself and in a Hunger Games-like situation there is no compassion shown and it is a test to make it out with your sanity intact.
After all, even the online shops have their glitches. With so many people online on this one day of special offers, many websites can potentially crash and have done in the past. Just as you’ve double and triple checked your basket and convinced yourself that you need everything in it, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach comes over you as the ‘oops something went wrong, please refresh the page to try that again’ message pops up on screen. 
Panic sets in, then despair, then utter disbelief that the internet has failed you. Best not take it out on the laptop though – another expensive buy is something you don’t want to add to the list.
The choice is before you. Do you refresh the page and lose all the items in your basket that you have ever so carefully thought about and picked out over a glass of wine or three or do you give up on that 50 percent off cosy cardigan, on shopping online and on the whole concept of Black Friday.
Back to square one it is. A failed Black Friday and prices shoot back up the day later.  It wasn’t even worth the struggle. You will just go to that work Christmas party, meet that friend of yours, attend numerous birthday bashes and leave your shopping until Christmas Eve. Yeah, that will work.
Black Friday is the solution to a stress-free lead up to Christmas if all goes to plan but be warned that seeking to be the most organised human being to grace the earth on this day is not always the best option if the actual purchasing will lead to more stress than anticipated.
And if all else fails today just thank the online retailers who started noticing a boost in sales the following Monday after Black Friday, as people sat at their computers and began to think about Christmas. These boost in sales have led to the creation Cyber Monday, the digital equivalent of Friday’s sales boost. Best of luck with that one.