Black Friday is Not the Only Day to Save this Holiday Shopping Season
Tod Marks, Consumer Reports’ shopping expert and author of the Tightwad Tod blog, is sharing some advice that can help shoppers get a better deal or even save them a trip to the store on one of the most hectic shopping days of the year.
“We haven’t seen this level of discounting in recent memory. The offers started fast and furious in late September, and not a day goes by that a leading retailer doesn’t dangle some kind of doorbuster,” says Mr. Marks. “So, don’t succumb to the Black Friday hype — retailers are more desperate than ever, and the dealmaking will continue right through the holiday season.”
Consumer Reports has advice for those brave enough to hit the stores this Black Friday:
1. Don’t be desperate. Competition for consumers shopping dollars is unusually intense this season. Shoppers will no doubt find big bargains on Black Friday, however, retailers have been slashing prices aggressively for months. And, there is no reason to believe that the wheeling and dealing will stop anytime soon. Shoppers shouldn’t fret if they miss out on one store blockbuster — another will surely come along. This year, Consumer Reports has seen plenty of so-called one-day sales that were extended.
2. Shop early. Shoppers should brace themselves for heavy traffic, crowds, and long lines — longer, probably, than they’ve been in a while since many stores are hiring less help this year. To make the most of shopping time, arrive at favorite stores early, before doors open and people pour in. Early birds also get to choose from the entire range of merchandise before it’s been picked through, which means fewer color, size, and style options. Retailers are more inclined to offer unadvertised specials in the morning (and at other slow hours), when shopper traffic is lighter.
3. Weigh the pros and cons of doorbusters. Black Friday earned the reputation as a bargain-hunter’s paradise because retailers feature a few high-profile, attention-grabbing toys or electronic items at or below cost to draw shoppers in. Such products are typically sold as “loss leaders” and are usually offered in extremely limited quantities. Shoppers shouldn’t bother to show up unless they are willing to wait on line, sometimes for hours before the store opens, and even then there’s no guarantee (or rainchecks). Many stores will be working harder this year to coax shoppers inside. As an added inducement, look for unadvertised sales throughout the day. Kmart, for instance, said such sales are a big part of their holiday merchandising strategy.
4. Compare deals. There’s no shortage of Web sites that obtain and publish advance notice of Black Friday deals at leading retailers and e-tailers. Many of the hot specials are already listed on www.fatwallet.com, www.bfads.net, www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com, www.dealtaker.com, www.walletpop.com, www.thebackfriday.com, and www.blackfridaydeals.us/shop. The sites often feature downloadable circulars and coupons and information as to which products come with rebates and which merchants offer free shipping.
5. Visit the retailer’s Web site. Shoppers should sign up for e-mail alerts from their favorite stores to receive notification of upcoming sales and often be targeted with exclusive coupons not readily available to everyone. Shoppers may save themselves a trip to the store by checking online to see if the products they want are stocked and available. In addition, many retailers offer the opportunity to purchase the item online and pick it up locally, also a time-saver.