MIT Sloan Prof. Juanjuan Zhang
MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. T. Tony Ke
Don’t get seduced by the hype.
The holiday season is upon us and—based on all the Internet ads, television commercials, and store fliers about—it appears you’ve been granted a golden opportunity to reap huge savings on gifts for everyone on your shopping list.
We are, of course, being facetious—store sales are little more than hype and hyperbole conducted to move merchandise and boost retailers’ bottom lines. And yet even the savviest shoppers among us can be drawn in by the plethora of psychological tricks stores employ to get us to make impulse purchases and overspend.
Do not despair. It is possible to show restraint and become a more rational shopper. Whether you’re planning to head to the mall on Black Friday, traipse down Main Street on Small Business Saturday, or fire up your laptop on Cyber Monday, all you have to do is remember these three basic principles.
MIT Sloan Visiting Prof. Zeynep Ton
This year, all kinds of holiday shopping traditions are being upended as desperate retailers do everything they can think of to increase sales. On what’s being called “Gray Thursday,” retailers like Walmart WMT 0.85% , Toys“R”Us, Target TGT 0.37% , and Kmart are giving shoppers the jump on Black Friday by opening on the evening of Thanksgiving, presumably after you’ve had enough turkey and cranberry sauce. JC Penney JCP 1.57% is opening even earlier — at 3 p.m.
This is a rotten break for employees forced to work while the rest of the family gathers together, as I point out here. REI, the outdoor sports and gear retailer, seems to be taking another approach, closing its 143 outlets on bothThanksgiving AND Black Friday. This move may earn REI a lot of publicity and goodwill. It is also consistent with the company’s brand as an environmentally concerned business and its “get out there” message: In this busy world, you don’t get enough time with your family or with nature. Why not use the holiday to enjoy the very things that REI promotes? You can always shop for our products later.