UNITED STATES—November is here and for retailers there is just 5-6 weeks until Christmas. Yes, this is the busiest time of year for retailers who may have been struggling all year long, but they now have an opportunity to turn a profit. For those not in the know, there is a holiday known as Black Friday, which transpires the day after Thanksgiving. It’s for those retailers who have been in the red to turn such a profit that they go black.

Things have been changing in recent years in the midst of the pandemic. For starters, Black Friday had been transpiring on Thanksgiving Day for many retailers, where they were opening their doors on mid-afternoon on Turkey Day, some were opening their doors very late at night and some keep those doors closed so their workers could spend time with their family and friends. It feels like we are heading back to tradition, with Thanksgiving being that day for many to spend time with family before opening their doors during the wee hours of the night. For my family, it has always been tradition, we would celebrate Thanksgiving then head out to do Christmas shopping. In some situations, we would actually miss Turkey Day to do Christmas shopping.

What people fail to realize is that it is NOT about getting a deal, it’s about the experience. Most people tend to be festive and just in a great mood. Rarely are you dealing with a situation where people are acting nuts and running people over to try to get a particular product. Maybe 10 years ago that was the case, but the retailers have gotten exceptionally smarter lately.

How so you ask? Black Friday is being ushered in earlier and earlier in the month. You already have Kohl’s and JC Penney who will be kicking off early access to some of their Black Friday deals the first few days of November. Best Buy gave early access to its Plus and Total Plus members last week (the caveat is you have to pay for the membership). Sorry, I’m not spending any money to be part of a rewards program; you should just celebrate your customers for spending money without forcing them to spend more money.

This is smart because it allows the consumers to start shopping a bit early and you don’t have everyone clamoring trying to get that must have item on the same day when there is limited stock. Trust me it can be very frustrating aiming to get something knowing that the first 10 people out of a line of 200 people will get the item. At least disclose that before you have people waiting for an extremely long time.

The staggered sales are great because when Black Friday finally comes around, you don’t have the massive crowds because people have already purchased many of the items on their list. You still have people out and about and shopping, it just isn’t as chaotic as it has been in the past, which is something that I think is nice to see. Here is the thing about getting ready for that shopping craze, plan ahead. It is always fun to shop with friends and family. Yes, solo shopping can be fun if there are things you just want to get done without distractions.

You need to have a list and try not to steer from that list. The thing about shopping for the holidays is that you can become caught up in the craze. What does that mean? You think just because it is on sale you have to buy it and guess what, you don’t. If it is not a gift for someone on your list or something you REALLY don’t need, don’t waste your money, save it. That is money you can use for other things down the line America. Set a budget and stick to it. Yes, the holidays can be stressful and for many people your funds can be quite limited, don’t feel the need to overdo what you cannot do. It is indeed the thought that counts the most. Enjoy the holidays while they are here because as we all know, you blink and it’s over.

Written By Zoe Mitchell