Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2013 are now history. While Cyber Monday produced a significant increase in sales over last year, Black Friday disappointed with a 3% drop in sales. Where did Americans find their best bargains? According to analysts, Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy led the pack. What type of bargains were Americans looking for? Mostly big-ticket electronics like big-screen TVs, digital cameras, computers and tech toys like Xbox One.
Unfortunately, the annual shopping frenzy once again resulted in violent confrontations and some injuries at stores throughout the country. There was even a stun gun fight between customers at one Philadelphia mall. The belief that Black Friday contains the best bargains of the year encouraged over 2 million shoppers to spend most of Thursday night in lines outside big-box retailers waiting for the doors to open. Many Americans even compromised their Thanksgiving celebration to capture bargains at stores opening earlier on Thursday evening.
Just what kind of bargains did shoppers find? Actually, often the bargains were more apparent than real. Retailers used a number of ploys to make bargains look more attractive. Benchmarking is one commonly used practice in which products are repriced with a higher original price tag, then sold at the regular price marked as a bargain. Off-brand and second rate quality merchandise is frequently offered at rock-bottom prices. Ample supplies of merchandise are often advertised as “limited quantities” to pressure customers into impulse buying.
All too often the true, deeply discounted bargains advertised prior to Black Friday are extremely limited in quantity and disappear within the first few minutes of the sale. Most shoppers never bag the really big bargain they were looking for, and many return home with items they never intended to buy.
All this commercialism is impacting the attitudes of Americans toward Christmas. While 71% say it is still one of the most important holidays of the year, 81% don't want to hear Christmas music or see decorations before Thanksgiving and a whopping 45% say they would like to skip Christmas altogether.
Increasingly, many Americans apparently feel forced to participate in a holiday that has less meaning for them with each passing year. This is really unfortunate because Christmas actually is a celebration of the biggest bargain ever offered in the history of mankind.
On a clear, starry night, Angels announced the bargain in song: “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, peace to those with whom God is pleased.” Then an angel made the following announcement: “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior of humankind has been born this day in Bethlehem.” (Luke 2:10–12)
What the Angels were announcing was that God had sent His only Son here to earth to be born as a human being and live among us. Through His teaching and acts of compassion, He demonstrated Father God's love for us. In His death and resurrection, He canceled the debt of our sin and paid for our complete restoration as children of God. In doing this, He offered us the biggest bargain of all time.
Regardless of how successful you were this past Black Friday, you can still gain the biggest holiday bargain, an eternal relationship with Father God. Accept His Son, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior today!
Please join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM, 11:00 AM or 2:00 PM. One of our pastors, Matt Dunn will be speaking on “Immanuel: Our Eternal Hope.”