Reasons to Avoid Stores on Black Friday

You can stay home and not worry about missing any deals

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People make purchases at the Black Thursday sale at the Toys 'R' Us store in Times Square Nov. 22, 2012 in New York City.
Shoppers spent an estimated $57.4 billion from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, Dec. 1, down from $59.1 billion in 2012.

Despite the fact that more retailers, including Best Buy and Macy’s, have opted to open their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day itself, the good news is that you don’t have to be among the throngs of people lined up to snag deals. Instead, you can be home digesting your turkey on the couch, without worrying that you’re missing out on stellar discounts. That’s because new tools make it easier than ever to track deals from afar, and many deals will remain available even after the Thanksgiving/Black Friday rush.

Here are six good reasons to pass up the chance to shop in a crowded store on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday:

1. Thanks to new apps, there’s no need to visit stores on a specific day to nab the best deals.

New technology, including a slew of apps and browser add-ons, makes it easy to track items you’re interested in purchasing, and to receive price alerts as soon as they’re marked down. Then, you can make the purchase online or in-store, simply by flashing the coupon on your smartphone the next time you’re there.

[Read: 12 New Shopping Apps for the Best Deals.]

The browser button ScoutFit lets you track items on your shopping list and alerts you when the price drops. Similarly, the service Shop It To Me lets you sign up for email alerts or app notifications when your favorite clothing brands go on sale.

2. Some of the best discounts have already been available, and will continue to be available, even after Black Friday.

Michael Vivio, president of Cox Target Media, which operates the coupon provider Valpak, says retailers have offered their discounts early this year, partly because the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is unusually short. Research by Savings.com shows that the best discounts on toys and games for kids will arrive during the first week of December, followed by markdowns on home décor during the second week of the month.

[Read: The Secrets to Snagging the Best Discounts.]

3. Shopping last-minute can also pay off.

Brad Wilson, founder of the website bradsdeals.com, says you can get some of the best deals last-minute as retailers rush to unload their inventory before Christmas. If they have a surplus of one type of television, for example, they’ll offer mega-discounts just before the holiday. Those deals often continue after Christmas, too, for shoppers who have the flexibility to wait.

4. Only the earliest birds will snag the best deals.

Retailers offer incredible “doorbuster” deals to entice shoppers, but only a few people snag them. They might not even be items that you want. At Best Buy, for example, it’s hard to know, because the store keeps some of them under wraps until game day. Stores also vary in how many doorbusters they keep in stock, and they only offer them until supplies run out.

5. Impulse buying usually means overspending.

The intensity and chaos of Black Friday sales can lead shoppers to purchase items they had never planned to buy. The educational website foolproofme.com offers shoppers an impulse buying test that calculates impulse purchases can add up to tens of thousands of lost dollars over one’s lifetime. A more measured approach – and lower total spending – comes from making a list and sticking to it, instead of the haphazard, competitive approach associated with Black Friday.

[See: 10 Saving Strategies That Can Backfire.]

6. One purchase can lead to more spending.

Research by Uzma Khan, an associate professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has identified what she calls “shopping momentum.” She and her co-authors say shopping can be broken into two phases, first when people decide whether or not they want to make a purchase, and then, the buying phase. "Once that happens, a roller coaster of shopping can begin,” Khan says. That means shopping Black Friday sales can end up leading to even more purchases, including ones the shopper hadn’t planned on buying.

If you decide to hit the stores for “Gray Thursday” or “Black Friday” anyway, just be sure to take your smartphone with you. Shoppers can increasingly get the best deals by combining the best of in-store promotions with mobile app technology. New apps, including RetailMeNot, PriceGrabber and RedLaser make it easy to compare prices in-store and carry coupons with you – simply show your smartphone at checkout.