Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales suggest the 99% are still spending

Black Friday is now as much a part of the Thanksgiving celebrations as a big turkey and a huge family get-together. Some people even forgo the latter to ensure their place at the front of the queue for the former.

Big-ticket consumer tech has always been the focus of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this year was no different. Prices may have been cut substantially – which is the whole point of this weekend intended to kick start the holiday buying season – but they’re still relatively high. Especially when these are products most people want rather than need.

This suggests to me that the 99%, that downtrodden section of society camping out to protest the greed of the 1%, is still spending. Even in these tough economic times of austerity measures and massive debts.

Black Friday

Techerator produced its own Black Friday Shopping Guide which included products as diverse as cameras, televisions, games consoles, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. All available from a range of retailers at knockdown prices, of course. But despite the obvious price cuts, we’re still talking hundreds of dollars per item here. All of which are being spent on products people desire yet don’t actually need. We’d all love a 46-inch LED HDTV, but how many of us has the $799 in spare cash to buy one on a whim?

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is never quite as manic as Black Friday. Mostly because it involved people sitting about in their pajamas ordering stuff from online retails such as Amazon. But the virtual crowds are just as big, if not bigger, than the real crowds which make the news every Black Friday. As a whole, the number of people shopping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is estimated to have topped 152 million in the U.S., up 10 percent on last year.

The 99%

I’m not knocking the 99% movement. Hell, I’m one of the 99%. In fact, I’m probably in the bottom 20 percent of the population in terms of income. Suffice to say writing for the Web isn’t the most lucrative career choice, unless your name is Paul Carr (formerly of TechCrunch) or Ben Parr (formerly of Mashable).

Am I spending a fortune on Christmas this year? Am I buying televisions for various members of my family? Am I buying gadgets left, right, and center for myself? No, no, and thrice no. Because I cannot afford to. Unlike all those who pushed, pulled, scratched, and bit their way through the crowds on Black Friday, or added a few zeros to their credit card bills on Cyber Monday.

The world may be doomed in terms of cash flow, but people will always find money to spend on unnecessary gadgets and gizmos.

Image Credit: Mike Licht
Image Credit: Craig Dugas

How to Profit from the AT&T/Alltel Merger

Now that AT&T may be acquiring T-Mobile, their acquisition of Alltel in a few states since the Verizon/Alltel merger is old news. By now everyone has pretty much figured out the jig. Every current Alltel customer gets a free AT&T phone because the two networks use different technologies, and a current Alltel phone won’t work on AT&T’s network (CDMA and GSM stuff).

Recently, I stumbled into a situation that allowed me to cash in on this situation and I hope someone else might be able to take advantage of it as well.

Selling Your Old Phone Online

First,  my current Alltel phone stopped working. Knowing the network switchover was going to happen soon, I didn’t want to spend the money on insurance – I think it’s around $100 – to get a new phone for only a month. My contract was up, so I went in to see if I could just get it renewed and get a cheap phone along with it.  The guy at the store said they were no longer renewing plans since the network switchover was happening so soon, but that he could just give me a phone at the renew price. I thought this was great and picked up a HTC Desire for $75.

After getting home and playing with my new phone for a while, I started to wonder what I was going to do with this phone after the switch. I remembered seeing a website where you can sell your electronics called Gazelle. Curious, I went to the site typed in my new phone to see what I could get for it. The site asks you some basic questions such as what condition it’s in and if you have the original manuals and stuff like that. Turns out, the thing was worth around $250!

So now when the switch happens, I can sell this phone and be up $175 from what I was. But what about insurance? What if I “lost” this phone? I could take the insurance and hypothetically sell it as well for another $250. It’s an option I’ve decided against, but would assume it’s entirely possible.

It’s not by any means guaranteed though. Many of the Alltel stores don’t have a lot of phones left. They are just pretty much selling the inventory they have until it’s gone, so the phone selection is pretty slim. Before doing this, make sure the phone you plan on selling is actually worth something. For example, the Blackberry Pearl pretty much has no value on Gazelle. If you do have one of those phones that aren’t worth a lot of money, then you might be able to haggle your way into a cheap phone similar to the way I did. I would think it’s in the stores’ best interest to sell the phones while they still can. It might be worth a try.

It’s also important to note that the more of a product that gets sold to the site, the more the value goes down. I’m assuming once the switchover has happened everywhere (it’s taking longer in some places) the value may drop sharply. If this sounds like something you want to do, make sure and do some research to see what the phones actually worth.

It would also be in your best interest to take a good look at your phone insurance policy. I can only imagine that falsely losing a phone in order to get a new one to sell it might be some kind of insurance fraud and that’s never a good thing.

So there you go, a way to make a few dollars off this phone switching fiasco. Nothing is guaranteed, but why not give it a shot to see if you can land yourself a nice phone for cheap while the gettin’s good? You can either sell it in the end or continue to use it (the Desire can run off wifi) as an MP3/Angry Birds player.