Opinion | The Black Friday sales this year sucked

By Kelly Xiong, Staff Columnist

This year’s Black Friday sales were unlike any other — they were quite disappointing. I went to the mall expecting massive sales similar to previous years, but instead I was met with mediocre discounts and “deals.” Stores were promoting their “biggest sale of the year!” but they were only discounting 30% off. They have this same sale in other months of the year. If I don’t feel like I’m robbing you, then I don’t want it. When I go Black Friday shopping, I expect 60-80% off sales instead of the typical “buy one get one 50% off” or “50% off select items” — usually those select items are the ugliest things I have ever seen. 

Many people on TikTok have expressed similar feelings. Walmart and Best Buy were some places where people would line up and wait outside store doors at 4 a.m., excited to get their hands on heavily discounted items, but this year there seems to be no excitement. There was no hype around this year’s sales the way there was in previous years, and there are many possible reasons for this. 

Many stores are now waiting until Cyber Monday to heavily discount their products, which may be why they don’t hype anything up for Black Friday. Another possibility is that the current inflation rate has risen past the increase in wages over the past few years. People can’t support all the extra spending. When the price of goods increases but wages don’t, it makes it harder for people to spend money on miscellaneous goods when they can barely afford basic living expenses. 

Some TikTokers have also made videos showing how stores appear to scam their customers on Black Friday deals. Some stores would increase the retail price a day before or even on Black Friday and then only discount the raised price to make it seem like the buyers were getting a “huge deal.” In reality, customers could have gotten the item for cheaper a month to even a week before Black Friday. 

Like many others, I don’t only shop for myself during Black Friday and Cyber Monday — I also do most of my Christmas gift shopping. But it’s hard to buy my friends, family and significant other presents when everything continues to get more expensive, exceeding my existing budget. I can’t buy gifts for anyone when one thing costs half my budget. 

It’s understandable if companies decide not to have big sales on Black Friday because they’re waiting for Cyber Monday. Many stores like to give consumers the illusion that they are getting a “good deal” so they can still make higher profits, while others don’t seem to care at all about giving their customers good deals. 

When I saw Abercrombie’s ad on Instagram for their “big Black Friday sale,” I was excited. But turns out, it was only 30% off on select items. This means nothing to me when a pair of jeans from there is upwards of $80 to $100. That is still a lot of money to spend on one pair of jeans, so I decided to wait for Cyber Monday hoping it would have better deals, but it didn’t. 

Something similar happened at Bath and Body Works. I always remembered them having massive sales on Black Friday where you could get body washes and lotions for less than $10. The only sale it had was the “buy 3 get 3 free.” It has this sale almost every month. This is not special or extraordinary whatsoever. Their Cyber Monday sale was slightly better — 40% off the entire store — but it still doesn’t compare to previous years when things used to be 60% to 70% off. 

Inflation is at an all-time high this year and many people are struggling to buy groceries. Meanwhile, big companies are making record-high profits. For at least one day companies should care about consumers because it’s not going to bring down their profits. If anything, wouldn’t this drive their profit up more? Lowering prices attracts more buyers than having the retail price stay practically the same. More people feel compelled to buy something if they feel the discount saves them money. When stores have higher discounts, the likelihood that they will attract more customers increases because people want to save money. This means that stores would likely benefit from having bigger sales because it would lead to more profits in the long run. 

Brands are wondering why they didn’t make as much money this weekend as they expected. It’s probably because many of us aren’t interested in buying things for nearly full price. Especially when the prices of goods keep increasing but our salaries aren’t. Inflation has spread people’s budgets very thin. When many are already struggling to afford to pay rent or buy groceries, they are less likely to spend money on miscellaneous goods that are marketed at full price — some might not even be able to afford to do so. Brands can make more money by catering to those who are on a tighter budget by discounting their products. This way, they can increase their demand. 

I’m thankful for the brands who did go all out for Black Friday and even Cyber Monday though. They deserve a shoutout for being team players this holiday season. In case you missed it, Gymshark had a massive Black Friday sale where items were up to 50% to 60% off, and had an even better Cyber Monday sale where you could get an additional 20% off of sale items. Hollister also had really great sales this year, with the main one being 60% off storewide, and some tops were under $10. This is the true Black Friday spirit. 

Kelly Xiong writes primarily about personal health and wellness. Write to her at [email protected].