If you're planning to rouse your family before dawn the day after Thanksgiving to get the first crack at Black Friday shopping deals, you might as well stay in bed.
Lining up around the block in the cold might feel festive, but it isn't guaranteed to score you any type of deal.
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"Black Friday doesn't represent the kickoff to Christmas shopping anymore," says Howard Dvorkin, the chairman of Debt.com. "More shoppers are skipping the long lines outside retailers on Friday morning because many Black Friday deals start on Thanksgiving night with many stores with openings around 6 p.m."
Dvorkin says primarily, two factors diminish the importance of Black Friday: the fact that deals bleed into Thanksgiving weekend and beyond, and that "door buster deals" are now available online.
Lauren Greutman, a frugal living expert at iamthatlady.com, explains, "Black Friday has morphed from just a one-day event to a month-long spending circus. Shopping on the day of Black Friday doesn't provide you with much better savings. We are seeing retailers start their sales days before Thanksgiving online, offering the same Black Friday prices that can be stacked with online coupon codes and free shipping."
%shareLinks-quote="Black Friday doesn't represent the kickoff to Christmas shopping anymore" type="quote" author=" Howard Dvorkin" authordesc="the chairman of Debt.com" isquoteoftheday="false"%
For instance, Amazon announced a week-long run of Black Friday deals leading up to Friday itself. Staples is also offering deals all week. Best Buy, which began offering "early deals" days before the holiday, will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Some retailers are pushing back against starting Black Friday early. Megan Willett at Tech Insider reports that numerous big-name stores, including Barnes & Noble, H&M, Lowe's, and Nordstrom are refusing to open their doors on Thanksgiving. Outdoor gear company REI will even remain closed on Black Friday itself, giving its employees a paid day off and encouraging shoppers to go outside instead of shopping.
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Whether stores start offering discounts early or not, an analysis from personal finance and credit card comparison site NerdWallet found that many Black Friday deals aren't as good as they seem. The analysis found not only that 95% of the retailers examined are repeating products and deals from last year, but also that some major retailers offered the same — or even lower — prices on products that were offered earlier in the month.
NerdWallet also found that some retailers inflate the "original price" of an item in order to advertise
"It's important for shoppers to ignore the Black Friday percent-off claims, as it's very likely that the advertised amount of the discounts may be inflated," NerdWallet shopping manager Katrina Chan told the site's Courtney Jespersen. "Instead, shoppers should look at the sale price of the item and determine if it's a price they're willing to pay."
"All days from now until January 1st offer great deals," says Dvorkin. "People should sign-up for e-newsletters and join the social communities of their favorite retailers. Most retailers provide exclusive coupon codes and even popup sales to their community members and subscribers that you won't find anywhere else."
"Free Shipping Day is December 18th — this is the last time of the year when people can get orders shipped to their home using normal shipping," says Greutman, who likes to shop on Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving. "Amazon Prime offers free shipping and even overnight shipping the days right before Christmas."
"There is no longer a need to wait in line for Black Friday deals," she adds. "You can simply shop from the comfort of your own home and save just as much money."