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Do homework to get best Black Friday deals
Advanced legwork is the key to shopping
Published Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:04 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

It seems the holidays come quicker and quicker each year. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the day after marks the official beginning of the holiday shopping frenzy dubbed “Black Friday.”

As with last year and the year before, it is being predicted that more shoppers than ever will be out participating in what has grown to become an annual post-Thanksgiving ritual.

If you are looking to score a few good deals next Friday, experts say you should already be working on your plan of attack.

“Having a successful Black Friday requires a lot more than just glancing at the ads in your newspaper the day before,” says Brad Olson, owner of GottaDeal.com, which has covered Black Friday online since 2003. The website acquires leaked copies of Black Friday ads from major retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us and others.

Other websites, such as BlackFriday.com and BlackFriday.Bradsdeals.com, alsoprovide information about sales before Black Friday.

“We’re able to empower consumers by giving them access to Black Friday ads weeks before they are released,” said Olson. “The extra time allows our visitors to research products, compare prices and come up with a plan of attack for the big day.”

Olson suggests that shoppers try to order as much online before leaving the house.

“Many retailers will put their Black Friday sale (prices) online starting as early as Wednesday night,” he said. “The more you can buy online, the more room you’ll have in your trunk for other purchases.”

All deals are not created equal
Olson also warns that shoppers should do their research and not assume that everything in a Black Friday ad is genuinely a good deal. He says it is not uncommon to find items advertised in these ads at the store’s “everyday low price.”

The Better Business Bureau warns shoppers about falling for false advertising. The agency’s website states: “Some companies will resort to advertisements that are untrue, misleading, deceptive, or plain fraudulent. Black Friday advertising will be abundant and BBB urges consumers to watch for red flags.”

A few of those red flags include bait and switch ads that lure shoppers with prices that are too good to be true only to push them towards more expensive items. Consumers should also watch out for the fine print, which may include deceptive final sale and return policies. BBB advises shoppers to do a little research and not to believe all they see or hear.

Here are a few more tips for shopping on Black Friday:

1. Create a wish list. No matter how good the deal, it is a waste of money to buy things you don’t really want or need on an impulse. Make a list ahead of time and stick to it.

2. Check the paper. Pick up a copy of the Sunday before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving Day. Both will be loaded with inserts, ads and coupons. Browse them based on your wish list and compare prices.

3. Use social media. Follow your favorite brands or stores on Twitter and Facebook to receive alerts about Black Friday sales and deals. Some stores offer extra discounts when you check in on Four Square. You can also join the email lists for many stores to find out about upcoming sales for Black Friday and beyond.

4. Prioritize. Make a list of the stores you want to visit and prioritize it based on which have the best deals on the items you want most.

5. Shop together. Olson suggests shopping with others whenever possible. “Split up purchases between your group into different parts of the store to maximize your chances of getting what you want and minimize the time spent in the crowded store,” he advises.

6. Call ahead. Do not assume that you will be able to “price match” on Black Friday. Call retailers you plan to visit to see what their policies are. It also a good idea to find out what their hours will be and if they will change the layout of the store in any way.

7. Cash out. Studies show that the average consumer spends less when they shop with cash instead of a credit card. However, a lot of credit cards offer incentives such as cash rewards and additional discounts for certain purchases.

8. Look up and down. Merchandisers often place the most expensive items at eye level. If you see something you like, check the items shelved above and below it. You may find a better deal.

9. Buy now, trade later. If you see something you like, but the size or color you prefer is not in stock,buy the item and exchange it later. Be sure to find out the store’s return/exchange policy before making the purchase.

10. Get an early start. Many stores are opening for special hours on Thanksgiving so you do not have to wait until Friday to do all of your shopping.


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