The Facts Behind 15 Black Friday Myths
Here at dealnews, our job is to help you get the best possible price for what you want to buy and to keep you from getting hoodwinked while you're shopping. It is with that in mind that we go into the holiday shopping season with some trepidation, because along with great Black Friday deals comes a lot of hype and misinformation. We can't tell you how to score a better parking space at your local mall, but we might just be able to brighten your day by dispelling these common Black Friday shopping myths:
MYTH: Black Friday sales begin on, well, Black Friday
Most major retail chains will have their Black Friday sales online on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, when you'd expect people to be busy traveling to relatives' houses and stuffing themselves with turkey. In fact, in years past, we've seen some deals sell out before Black Friday. dealnews' #1 Black Friday tip is to begin shopping online on Thursday, as early as possible.
MYTH: Doorbusters are free
Whaaa? Believe it or not, many people believe that Black Friday is a day to score freebies. This myth may be what lures people to sleep overnight outside a store, but most doorbusters are just low-priced items meant to create frenzy. If you find a free TV on Black Friday, please send us a photo of it alongside your pet unicorn.
MYTH: The deals are so good on Black Friday, they're worth sleeping overnight on a curb for
These days, more and more Black Friday deals are available online as well as in-store. Couple that with the fact that many Black Friday doorbusters are either matched or beaten later in the season, and you can only conclude that it's not worth camping out for Black Friday specials. At most stores, being first in line to go in at 5 am only guarantees that you'll get shoved around as the 500 people behind you are also let in.
MYTH: Nobody will match Black Friday prices
That's just not true. In a few weeks, we'll put out our list of stores that offer price matching on Black Friday. (See last year's list.) Moreover, major online retailers like Amazon.com will have Black Friday sales too. In fact, in 2009, Amazon matched the best Black Friday prices at Walmart. And Best Buy. And newegg. And Staples. And Office Depot. And Apple. And Target. The list goes on.
MYTH: Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year
The Saturday before December 25 is actually the busiest shopping day of the year.
MYTH: Prices on Black Friday are the lowest you'll see all year
Many Black Friday deals are matched or beaten later in the season. It's a buyer's market, and prices aren't going up. If a deal doesn't make you swoon, wait for a better deal later. Also, in their Black Friday ads, retailers often mix in their everyday prices with their steeper discounts, hoping that a shopper will bite on a high-profit item.
MYTH: Black Friday prices are always sale prices
Not only are some deals matched later on, some prices were better before Black Friday. In the past several years, retailers have been caught red-handed jacking up prices before Black Friday, then lowering them with supposed discounts that leave the price higher than it was before. It helps to know what things cost now to make sure you're getting a bargain down the road. When applicable, peel back price stickers to see what the original price really was.
MYTH: If you have buyer's remorse, you can always just return your purchases
Not so fast! Stores have tightened their return policies considerably, making it harder to return items. Some will only give you store credit even if you have a receipt, not give you back the cash value or credit your card. Some stores are now even keeping track of serial returners and banning them. If you don't remember to ask for a gift receipt for each item, your recipient may be unhappy too, because they'll likely only be offered store credit for only a limited portion of the return. Bah humbug!
MYTH: Signing up for a store credit card to get an extra discount is a no-brainer
If it's really that good for you, do you think they'd try to up-sell you so hard? There's a reason why most people decline these offers, not the least of which is the fact that retailers dangle such offers to get you to overspend. Also, opening new lines of credit can affect your credit score, so you have to consider how long you'll keep the card, will you pay it off each month, and will it harm you the next time you need a mortgage, car loan, or other form of credit in the near future.
MYTH: All of the good deals are in the Black Friday ads
On Thanksgiving Day, retailers like Walmart and Best Buy have historically advertised additional Black Friday deals that weren't in their circulars. These "secret" deals will only be found online (e.g., at BestBuy.com), so the trick is to uncover them on the Web on Thursday so you'll know about them when you get to the store on Friday.
MYTH: Leaked Black Friday ads are accurate
In fact, they are often inaccurate. See last year's leaked OfficeMax flyer. It was 100% inaccurate. This year has already had its first failure, as two conflicting Harbor Freight ads have been released (hopefully one of those is right).
MYTH: You have go to an Apple Store in person for its Black Friday Sale
In reality, all of Apple's Black Friday sale prices will be available at the Apple Store Online, with free shipping site-wide. However, consumers looking for the season's best deals on Apple products should also check Apple resellers like MacConnection, Amazon, and MacMall, which undercut Apple's Black Friday prices last year and may offer a sales tax advantage.
MYTH: Black Friday is the best day to buy a new TV
For the last three years, the best time to buy a good TV wasn't on Black Friday; it was either in December (2007 & 2008) or January (2009). The rule is that Black Friday is the best time of the year to buy no-name TVs, and the weeks following are the best time to buy high-end TVs.
MYTH: If you are buying big-ticket electronics, you should protect them with extended warranties
Not necessarily. Retailers lower prices, then need add-ons to recoup profit. Don't be talked into buying a long, pricey warranty if you know a one-or two-year plan will do the trick. It's cheaper to buy a techie friend dinner in exchange for help than paying for in-home setup.
MYTH: You can get free shipping coupons codes for anything
If only that were true. Free Shipping Day this year is December 17, and has hundreds of participating merchants, but doesn't nearly encompass all of them. You can look around on the Web every day for coupon codes, and wait for a free shipping offer for the store you want, but you won't get it for everything.
More Black Friday News at dealnews:
- Black Friday Predictions
- Black Friday Deals
- Black Friday RSS Feed
Photo credits via flickr: riptheskull, ShopKoFan, demmemai, EvelynGiggles,
ChrisGonzalez90, cruzz, Foundub4, billaday, B Rosen, Kevin Walter,
Myki Roventine, Tommy Klumker, Robert Scoble, andrew_cosand, GoTRISI