Black Friday frenzy moves beyond malls to auto showrooms

Despite the weak economy, many shoppers will be out in full force on Black Friday to take advantage of bargains that -- like Santa Claus -- appear only once a year. So, on this holiest of shopping days, be prepared for lots of traffic and long lines -- unless you set your sights on an automobile showroom rather than the local mall.

With consumers' tastes more geared toward purchasing a new TV, computer or other trendy electronic device, foot traffic is notoriously light at new-car dealerships at this time of year. And that appears to work to the advantage for those who don't mind spending the day after Thanksgiving haggling over the price of a shiny new ride rather than resting up after a big feast., a supplier of car-pricing information, says research shows Black Friday to indeed be the best day to buy a car. A review of day-to-day sales information found the average discount on Black Friday was 7.5%, compared to 4.7% on an average day. "The discounts from dealerships, as well as manufacturers' incentives, generate the highest discounts of the year on Black Friday," says Jesse Toprak, analyst told

A combination of factors may help to explain why Black Friday seems to be a particularly good day to strike a deal, not the least of which is that it always falls at the end of November. Auto dealers are known for giving better deals at the end of any month as they seek to hit sales targets before the calendar rolls over.

What's more, the end of the year is typically a slow sales time for many dealerships, since consumers are far more focused on holiday gift giving and merry making.

Another survey suggests that if consumers knew they could get eke out a better deal on Black Friday, dealers would likely move more inventory.

When asked how the availability of additional automotive discounts and incentives on Black Friday would affect their purchase time frame, 32% of new-car shoppers in the market for a new vehicle said they would definitely purchase a new car sooner than they had planned, according to Kelley Blue Book. An additional 65% said they would consider purchasing a vehicle sooner if additional Black Friday auto discounts and incentives were available.

"There is a perception gap about what special deals actually are available to new-car shoppers on Black Friday," said James Bell, KBB's executive market analyst.

Still, consumers shouldn't be lured by a false sense of once-in-a-lifetime deals. Savvy shoppers are likely to find a good deal any time they opt to buy a new car, as long as they do research, shop around and keep their wits about them.

New-car buyers need to be wary of dealer tricks and sales tactics designed to get you to pay more money, says Consumer Reports magazine.

With car sales in recent months down more than 40% from their peak and so many dealers hanging by a thread, scams are getting worse, said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, in Sacramento, Calif. "The irony is, the products have never been better; the practices have never been worse."
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