The truth about Black Friday and what you should know

Black Friday is just two weeks away and with the shopping extravaganza upon us I thought I’d create a video/post examining whether or not Black Friday is really the best time to shop. Spoiler alert: it isn’tHowever, that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals to be had and it also doesn’t mean there isn’t a benefit to being able to plan around Black Friday.

So to get to the bottom of this debate of whether or not you should partake in Black Friday, I did some research on my own and also spoke with a representative from DealNews to shed light on the situation. I got answers to questions like, does Black Friday really offer the best deals of the year and if you do decide to shop on Black Friday how can you maximize the value you get?

Below is the complete Q&A I had with Lindsay Sakraida, Director of Content Marketing at DealNews.

1. Does Black Friday really offer the best deals of the year? Side note: I have seen research that Black Friday deals aren’t always the best. Would love to hear your thoughts/insights.

There are definitely bad deals during Black Friday. Sometimes, the deals aren’t bad but they’re just OK; sometimes, they’re outright misleading. We’ve sometimes seen deals promoted at prices that are higher than what that same store has offered in the recent past. Typically though the filler deals are just middling discounts that either are comparable to what the going rate is at other stores, or something you could probably get at various other times during the year. The thing that makes Black Friday attractive for even these types of deals though is that you can plan for them, vs other times when the sales are sprung upon you.

That said, the Black Friday season is also bursting with truly amazing prices, and this isn’t just reserved for the doorbuster deals that are impossible to get. Already we know that there will be new price lows on TVs, and the brand new Echo and Google Home models will be discounted for the first time ever. We’re also expecting hefty discounts on Apple products like the iPad and Apple Watch, which signals that the holiday isn’t just about off brand “junk.” Plus, a slew of brands, both high and low, will offer sitewide discounts that are the best of the year. Your favorite clothing, beauty, travel, and home goods stores will likely be slashing prices just in time for the holidays. And while these discounts might get stronger during end of season clearance, shoppers really can’t beat the timing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2. Do retailers inflate prices to make deals look more appealing on Black Friday?

Often if a retailer has consistently discounted an item over the summer or early fall, they might remove that discount before they announce their Black Friday deals. That way, shoppers who are reviewing the ad will walk away thinking that this is indeed a special discount. The Black Friday discount might still be legitimately better than the previous sale price, but it certainly looks better when comparing to retail price.

3. If you do shop on Black Friday what’s the best way to maximize the value you can get?

Definitely do your research beforehand, so you can compare the ads of different stores and research what historical pricing has been. A good baseline is to look at Camel Camel Camel. While that tool only tracks Amazon pricing, it’s a good reference to see what the historical lowest price might be. If you see a lower price on numerous occasions, then the Black Friday deal might not be as good as you think. Go into the holiday with a budget in mind and a shopping list; impulse purchases are often things we haven’t researched, which means you’re more likely to get swept up in the emotions of shopping and forget to do your due diligence. Also search for a coupon before checking out, and don’t forget to factor in shipping costs when deciding which store to buy from. Many stores will offer free shipping, but not all. And while this holiday is still Black Friday, many of the legit deals start several days beforehand, and most are online. So you should start shopping on Monday of Thanksgiving week.

4. Typically are the electronics products with the insanely low prices (e.g TVs, cameras, smartphones) older and/or lower end models?

Most insanely-priced doorbusters are basic models from the past year. You’re unlikely to get any bells and whistles with those deals. For example, Target is offering a Westinghouse 55″ 4K TV for $250 which is the lowest price ever for a 4K TV that size — but it’s from an off-brand. While some stores will use higher-end tech to lure customers to their sales, often those prices are good but not jaw dropping.

5. This year who has the best Black Friday deals for tech products?

We’re still waiting on Walmart and Amazon, so it’s difficult to say this early. Target was a little underwhelming with its tech deals, but there were a handful of great prices on smaller gadgets. Best Buy is shaping up to have several items that beat our predictions, but you can never rule out Amazon; the store typically releases its “ad” late in the game so it can aggressively match several of the best deals from its competitors.

6. What should consumers be careful about when shopping on Black Friday?

Definitely watch out for impulse purchases. There’s going to be a lot that looks good, and even if it IS good, it’s too easy to buy things you don’t need or haven’t thought through. A lot of purchases are final sale or have limited returns, so make sure you’re buying something that actually fulfills your needs and is at a price point you can actually afford.

About the author

— Jeff Weisbein

Jeff is the founder & CEO of BestTechie. He has over 10 years of experience working with technology and building businesses. He loves to travel and listen to music.

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