7 Black Friday Sales Tricks to Avoid

Ask the Expert, Featured Article
Black Friday shoppers

Thanksgiving is just a week away, which, for everyone looking to get a good start on their holiday shopping, means that Black Friday is just around the corner as well. If you’ve already been making your list and checking it twice, you know that successful Black Friday shopping isn’t for novices—there are certain tips and tricks that serious shoppers must master. But you may not know that, while there will be plenty of great deals available on Black Friday, there will also be some retail traps set to lure reckless spenders.

To help you make this Black Friday your most bargain-filled ever, money-saving and smart-spending expert Andrea Woroch has compiled a list of the top seven Black Friday snares that are sure to bust your budget. Avoid them at all costs.

Derivative products

Some products are manufactured specifically for Black Friday sales and therefore never sold for full retail price prior to the holiday season (if they even existed at all). This year’s example is the Roku SE (special edition) streaming device that appears in Black Friday ads for Kohl’s, Target and Walmart. It can be purchased for $25, or 50% off, but as experts point out, this particular model hasn’t existed until recently. It’s important to research model numbers and compare features to ensure what you’re buying isn’t missing key components.

Misleading “compare at” pricing

Stores’ Black Friday ads will have you believe you’re saving over 50% on nearly everything. For example, Sears is offering a Craftsman 230-piece mechanics tool set for $89.99 on Black Friday, which is 55% off, according to their ad. However, the product is currently priced at $99.99 on their website, making their Black Friday offer only 10% less than what you’d pay for it right now. Similarly, Toys ‘R Us has a train set priced at $39.99 in their Black Friday ad, suggesting a savings of $70, even though the current online price is $59.99. This doesn’t mean these deals aren’t worth your dollars; it just means you shouldn’t allow big discount claims to influence your spending.

Mail-in rebate requirements

An automatic 12-cup coffeemaker priced at $8 is a steal of a deal on Black Friday. But read the fine print and you may find something surprising: That $8 price includes a mail-in rebate of anywhere from $5 to $15. Kohl’s, Macy’s and JCPenney feature cookware deals that include rebates, so when you’re comparing offers between retailers, make sure to factor in this extra step. You may decide paying a couple dollars more for a comparable coffeemaker from Walmart is still a great deal without the hassle of a rebate.

Deals available early online

While you’re busy prepping your Black Friday survival kit, other shoppers plan to snatch up Black Friday bargains from home. Since many stores offer Black Friday pricing to online shoppers before they open their brick-and-mortar locations, it’s a good idea to snatch up doorbusters as early as possible online and focus your in-store shopping on those deals that aren’t available online. For example, Best Buy is revealing additional doorbusters to online shoppers only on Thanksgiving; Kohl’s is launching Black Friday prices online starting Nov. 23; and unlike previous years, Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales from Walmart will be available online.

Missed discounts

Accessing top deals before they’re snatched up by someone else is challenging enough on Black Friday, so it’s easy to forget opportunities for extra savings. Retailers like JoAnn Fabric feature coupons for extra savings in their Black Friday circulars. This year, the craft store is offering an extra 25% off your total purchase, including sale items but excluding doorbusters, on Black Friday and Saturday. Macy’s also has extra savings in its Black Friday ad, including $10 to $20 off select purchases of $25 to $50 (again, excluding doorbusters). To ensure you never miss a coupon, download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for digital access to these deals.

Price matching blackout dates

Target made headlines this season by expanding its price-matching policy to 29 competitors, including Costco and Sam’s Club. Other stores, including Walmart and Best Buy, have price-matched each other and Amazon for a few years now. While these policies represent a good value for consumers, they’re not typically valid between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The exception is Walmart, which will match the Black Friday ad of any local retailer featuring an item for a cheaper price.

Better deals after Black Friday

Toys top kids’ wish lists and parents’ gift lists this season, and retailers highlight popular toys like LEGO, Disney and Star Wars merchandise in the pages of their Black Friday ads. However, deal experts have long found better savings on toys after Black Friday, typically during the first two weeks in December. Apparel and shoes are often a better purchase on Cyber Monday, while shopping expert Kyle James recommends holding off on kitchen items until Dec. 18, the date of this year’s Free Shipping Day, during which you’ll receive free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve.

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