Avoid These Shopping Land Mines on Black Friday

Black Friday is only days away. Here’s how to avoid any “trap doors” when holiday shopping.

The worst kept secret in retail is that Black Friday shopping deals start the day after Thanksgiving.

No, not really.

Retailers now routinely roll out big discounts – they even call them “Black Friday” discounts – well ahead of Thanksgiving weekend.

Consider Walmart, which promoted its first Black Friday sales event from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9, featuring an HP Chromebook for $79 and a TCL 55″ Class 4K Smart Roku TV for just $188.

“Other big box stores including Lowes, Target and Kohls dropped doorbuster deals even earlier, rolling out pre-Black Friday sales as early as November 3rd and 4th,” said personal finance expert Andrea Woroch, founder of the money saving advice website AndreaWoroch.com. “With all this deal frenzy though comes a lot of confusion on what to buy now and what to wait to buy.”


How to Keep Calm and Carry On

In the dazed and confused shopping period between early November and the last week of December, holiday shoppers can easily make mistakes and cost themselves some of their hard-earned cash. That’s especially the case with Black Friday sales, when shopping tends to get the most intense.

To avoid those Black Friday land mines, take a step back, breathe deeply, and follow these money-savings Black Friday shopping tips that may otherwise trip you up in the coming weeks.

Beware of doorbusters. Be careful of doorbusters – they could be made of inferior quality and missing key components and features to keep prices low.

“Not to mention, off-brand electronics may not hold up as well,” Woroch said. “Research models and assess quality of home good and clothing material in person to determine the value.”

Rethink that rebate. A Black Friday deal that requires you to mail in a rebate may not be worth it.

“That’s especially the case if there are other steps that you can’t complete such as including a product barcode on a gift,” Woroch noted. “In the end, a smaller instant discount from another store could be better. Look for coupons via deal aggregators like CouponFollow.com to find the steepest discount.”

Act fast on hot deals and products to avoid supply chain slowdowns. It’s a good idea to sign up for key retailer apps and deal site notifications to get the best offers in real-time.

“Be on the lookout now for sales and deals and be sure to act fast on hot deals or hot products as some industries are expected to still have supply chain issues,” said Inmar Intelligence general manager of incentives Rob Weisberg. “Our recent survey data revealed that 40% of shoppers plan to shop earlier and stock up before prices rise even further as well.”

Check — and double check — return policies. With a variety of other factors at play, retailers are assessing a number of options when it comes to return policies.

“Some companies, like H&M, are considering charging for returns, while others have gone in the opposite direction and are simply asking customers to keep items they wish to return instead of shipping them back,” Weisberg noted. “It’s a complicated equation, and a savvy shopper should be in the know on the return policy of purchased goods, especially with a product purchased during a sale.”

Avoid the “Bundle.” One thing shoppers should look out for is the lure of heavily discounted “bundle deals” which should be abundant this year.

“One of the big focus points for retailers is increasing the average order size around major sale periods like Black Friday, because there are so many discounts,” said EcommerceIntelligence.com founder Ryan Turner. “This tactic helps them make more actual profit per sale in terms of net dollar value, even after the attractive promotions are applied. For consumers, this can be problematic because they don’t actually save any money.”

Here’s how it works, according to Turner.

Instead of discounting a popular product by 30%-40%, many retailers will simply bundle this product up with a handful of other items, then apply the discount to the bundle as a whole.

“This can look highly attractive to shoppers but in reality buyers are spending more than they otherwise would have because they would not of naturally bought the bundle — all they really wanted was the one product,” he added. “But to get the “savings” on this one item it is often necessary to purchase the deal along with other products you don’t really want.”

Be Armed and Ready

The best overall shopping tip around Black Friday? It’s two tips actually – be smart and be ready.

“Follow your favorite brands and retailers on their social media channels as they often use those channels for communicating deals,” Weisberg said. “According to our data, 67% of consumers have made a purchase based on content viewed on social media. Furthermore, more than 70% of consumers look to influencers for product inspiration.”

Also, scope out your go-to influencers and influencers that have brand deals with your favorite brands. “That helps you stay in the know on any special coupons or promotions they offer their followers or post about for Black Friday,” Weisberg added.

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