As the holidays approach, a lot of shoppers look to Black Friday for the best, hardest-to-find discounts, but in reality, the deals being offered aren't as good as you think. Here are a few deceptive Black Friday sales tactics that you and your budget should avoid.
First, don't be quick to fall for overhyped "doorbuster" sales. Oftentimes, retailers will dangle a popular item at a big discount to lure customers in, but what they don't tell you is how limited their quantities are. These stores know that once they get you inside, you're likely to stay and spend on the lesser deals, so always call and check their inventory first.
Next, watch out for derivative products. Some Black Friday ads will only include the bare minimum when it comes to technical specs for devices like TV's, laptops and tablets. Usually, this is because the item on sale is a derivative product, specifically manufactured for Black Friday and the holiday season with lower overall quality and less features. These items may look like their pricier counterparts, but they probably won't last as long, costing you more in the long run.
Lastly, don't be swayed by phony markdowns. This is when a sale price is posted alongside an inflated "original price," creating the illusion of a great deal. This is a classic retail trick, so don't be misled. Focus on the sale prices and use those as a comparison.
So, while Black Friday does have some good deals, they're not always the best you'll find all year. Keep these seasonal tips in mind while shopping, and you'll see the savings for yourself.
13 Ways Black Friday 2014 Will Be Different
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Last year, to build anticipation, a handful of retailers offered sneak peeks of their Black Friday ads several weeks before the official, complete debut. The strategy was successful at generating buzz, so expect to see far more retailers doing the same this year. A few stores to watch out for include MacMall, JCPenney (JCP) and Macy's (M), which leaked its sales via its Pinterest page.
It was around Black Friday last year that Target (TGT) experienced the first of these massive security hacks, but it wasn't the last; then came Neiman Marcus, eBay (EBAY), Home Depot (HD) and more. There's no denying 2014 has been the year of the hack. As a result, both retailers and consumers will be extra cautious this year, guarding their credit card info from would-be thieves. We recommend brushing up on a few crime prevention basics and limiting the amount of times you use your debit card in public.
Good news for online shoppers: The United States Postal Service has slashed shipping costs for select businesses by up to 58 percent, which may inspire more shipping discounts from retailers. But before you celebrate, the new lower prices may backfire and cause the USPS to be overwhelmed this holiday season, especially as UPS (UPS) and FedEx (FDX) prepare to raise their rates. Your best bet -- shop early and keep an eye on those tracking numbers.
Previous-generation streaming devices tend to see the best deals on Black Friday, but this year the market is busier than ever, meaning we could see significant deals on current-generation set-top boxes. Among the newer models to look out for are Amazon's Fire TV and Sony's (SNE) PlayStation TV, both of which debuted at $99 and cater to gamers.
This year we expect to see no-frills 4K TVs hit well below the $999 mark. Leading the charge will be budget TV manufacturer Seiki, which broke all deal records this summer with its $280 39-inch and $429 50-inch 4K TVs. These and other Seiki screens will hit similar price-lows this Black Friday, bringing 4K technology to the masses.
Bargain bin laptops have hit rock bottom. These simple, low-powered machines can't get any cheaper than prices we've seen in years past, which range from $178 to $200. As a result, this Black Friday you're going to see better discounts on mainstream machines, i.e. laptops with Intel's (INTC) current-generation Core processors and a respectable spec sheet. Deal prices on mainstream machines have been steadily dropping since April, with deals already flirting with the $350 range at the start of the fall season.
Despite a crash in sales, tablets are still a hot commodity and expected to sit atop everyone's shopping list this November. With growing competition from Apple, Google and Microsoft (MSFT), it's a buyer's market, which means you can expect more tablet sales this year than there were in 2013. If you're strapped for cash, Windows tablets could offer the most savings since 50 percent of Windows tablet sales this year have been Editors' Choice deals.
Traditionally, the best toy deals appear in mid December, just before Santa's big debut. However, last Black Friday week saw more toy deals than ever before, beating out every week in December in terms of Editors' Choice deals. While it's hard to predict what might happen this year, one thing is certain: If you have toys on your shopping list, you won't want to sit out this Black Friday.