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8 Reasons Why Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Overrated

It'd be fine if the unbridled enthusiasm for Black Friday and Cyber Monday remained safely on its side of the mall—along with Spencer's Gifts, Orange Julius, and the hordes of red-and-green-sweater-clad holiday-sale worshipers. But noooo. What we have instead is a world in which everyone keeps asking everyone else, "What are you buying, where are you going, and who's got the best deals?"

This year, don't be at a loss for words: We've assembled eight reasons to avoid Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and even Green Tuesday. Feel free to bust out these logic bombs any time a crazed mall shopper pesters you about your holiday-spending plans.

1. Black Friday isn't the biggest shopping day of the year—it's just the most crowded.
Traditionally, the biggest retail shopping day of the year is the weekend before Christmas. What Black Friday may actually be is the busiest retail day for window shopping. "People just want to get out and do something on that day," a director of U.S. retail and consumer products for Ernst & Young admits. So go ahead and battle demophobia (fear of crowds) while tussling for subpar sales. We'll be elsewhere, not getting elbows thrown in our face.

2. Savings occur only in specific product categories
Whether or not Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best days for sales depends on what you're buying. The Wall Street Journal tracked several popular gift items over the year and found that Black Friday is only the best bet if you're buying certain Apple products, Xboxes, and items that retailers overestimated demand for and now have a surplus of. If Santa isn't putting iPads or gaming consoles in people's stockings this year, Black Friday may not be the sales day for you—er, Santa.

3. Buying gifts earlier in the year may actually save you more money.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are bad bets if you want your loved ones to find Ugg boots, watches, or jewelry under the tree, as these items went up in price as the year wore on. In one case last year, the average price of a 46-inch Samsung flat-screen TV went up a whopping $200 between October and Black Friday.

4. Wait long enough and prices will often drop more significantly.
Sometimes it's best to wait past Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, a KitchenAid stand mixer, for example, dropped in price by 20 percent in December. So if getting the best deal really is your goal, you shouldn't go shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

5. It's a marketing gimmick with a black eye of a history.
In the 1950s, managers at factories coined the term Black Friday for the day after Thanksgiving because so many workers called in sick that day. And cops in Philly in the early sixties were the first to use the name specifically about the shopping holiday because of the crowds, traffic, bad behavior, and all-around nuisance the shopping rush caused. The Black Friday we know today only came about in the eighties, when retailers began spinning it into a marketing catchphrase and equated the "black" with fiscal solvency. Cyber Monday was invented in 2005 by the website Shop.com, which wanted a snappy term to help drum up buzz around a new online shopping "holiday" to compete with Black Friday.

6. In some states it's illegal.
It's against the law in certain states to open retail stores on Thanksgiving Day: Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island are prime examples. (L.L. Bean has a grandfathered exception to working on Thanksgiving in Maine.) So if you want to disrespect our New England boys in blue by standing outside a Wal-Mart in the middle of the night while your stomach is still digesting your family's feast, go right ahead. We'll be here watching football and drinking a few law-abiding tall boys.

7. Shop online and you may slow down the Internet.
Internet usage spikes on Cyber Monday. According to Mozilla, Firefox users downloaded a significantly larger number of shopping add-ons the week of Cyber Monday last year. So by not bogging down everyone's broadband, you're really giving everyone else the gift of faster Internet connections.

8. Some people prefer to think of the biggest shopping day of the year as a giving holiday, not a buying one.
The Commonwealth equivalent of Black Friday is Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, when workers traditionally received gifts from their employers—and, in the British army, the day officers and enlisted trade places. What's more, it's a tradition in some countries for families to contribute to charities, work in soup kitchens, and do social work for the less fortunate on Boxing Day—not to make you feel completely selfish about your little self-indulgent shopping day or anything.

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Also on Details.com:
2013 Holiday Gift Guides
Objects of Desire: Building the Perfect Desk With Daily Rituals Author Mason Currey
5 Revolutionary Tech Trends Changing the Way We Shop

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Livingston/Trunk Archives.
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