Busted! The 14 Biggest Myths About Black Friday
But are all the deals great? Do you have to shop online to find them? And do Black Friday sales even have to begin on Black Friday? We've addressed these questions, and quite a few more, in our list of the biggest myths about Black Friday. Brush up on some shopping knowledge now, so you're well prepared for the upcoming deal season.
1. Black Friday Sales Begin on Black Friday
Much like Christmas itself, Black Friday is now a full season. Sure, Black Friday proper is the main attraction, but stores have increasingly started to release deals in waves. Bargains can be found early in the week of Thanksgiving and run all the way through the weekend. (In fact, some of Amazon's deals have been available all week.) The bottom line is, if you're doing all your deal-hunting exclusively on Black Friday, then you're missing out.
2. You're Missing Out if You Only Shop Online
Companies advertise doorbusters in order to attract customers to their brick-and-mortar stores. But in recent years, as competition has escalated among rival retailers, those eye-catching deals have steadily moved online as well. In fact this year, we saw our first mobile app-only deals and perks.
The reason is simple. Traditional retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy know that online retailers such as Amazon will match their best prices on in-store deals. Thus it only makes sense to offer the same deals online, to remain competitive. The goal is to beat Amazon, but the real winners are deal-hunters.
3. Black Friday Shopping is Dangerous
We've all seen the footage. Hordes of crazed holiday shoppers stampede into a store at four in the morning, trampling anyone and everyone in the way. It makes for a morbidly fascinating spectacle, a case study for shoppers as social Darwinists, played out on live TV.
But the truth is that those sorts of incidents are actually extremely rare. We just happen to see the worst on the news because it translates into great TV. While you should be aware of the potential for chaos during your in-store shopping, know that it's unlikely to reach aggressive proportions.
4. All Black Friday Deals Are Amazing
This is shopping 101. Remember, retailers are in business to make a buck, and they can't do that if they lose money -- or even make too small a profit -- on every deal.
Some deals are great, but others are filler. The great ones are there to lure you into buying more stuff, ideally at a healthy markup. So do your research and uncover the truth about those "rock bottom" prices before you buy.
5. All Black Friday Deals Appear in Ads
Nope. For one thing, websites like Amazon don't even run traditional ads. So you won't be able to scope out their deals beforehand on TV or in the newspaper. Plus, because most of the big stores want to out-do each other, there's a certain amount of responsive pricing that comes after the ads debut.
If Walmart, for example, is offering a crazy discount on a TV, and it's getting a lot of attention for that price, then there's a good chance that its competitors will consider doing the same at the last minute.
6. Apple's Black Friday Sale is a Must-Shop Event for Apple Fans
Apple Stores across the country will be packed on Black Friday, but they won't be offering great deals. Last year, the tech giant offered gift cards with its full-price devices, which was pretty disappointing for shoppers hoping for a discount. If you want a real deal, you'd be better off checking out what third-party retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy and MacMall can do.
Apple doesn't want to be known as a brand for discounts, but in the past few years, these resellers have been a lot more liberal with their Apple promos. In fact, last Black Friday, Target offered huge gift cards with every iPad model, while the MacBook Air fell to all-time low prices. Check out our roundup of the best advertised Apple device prices for more details on where to shop this year.
7. You Have to Stay Glued to Your Computer All Day to Get Deals
Sure, Black Friday can be stressful. With deals popping up throughout the day, you might feel like you have to keep your eyes on the computer monitor.
But that's simply not the case. DealNews has you covered. Before you spend 24 hours staring at a pixelated screen, set up an alert with us to receive notifications when your favorite deals are posted. (Keep in mind though that once your deal of choice goes live, you will have to buy quickly.)
8. Once You Hit "Purchase," It's Yours
Every year, plenty of shoppers have online orders canceled for various reasons. The price listed on the website might be incorrect (it happened infamously with Best Buy in 2011), or the item might have sold out so fast that the company couldn't process all the orders before you pressed "purchase."
On the other hand, check the fine print. If you want to back out of a buy, you might be able to cancel the order. But you might also be stuck if the merchandise is listed as "final sale."
Just remember, with all the money changing hands, businesses tend to tighten their return policies during the holiday season. Buy wisely, and make sure to ask for gift receipts when necessary.
9. Online Shopping is Always Easier
As anyone who's lived through Black Friday knows, the online experience isn't always stress-free. Technology isn't perfect. Websites can crash or even fail. And when everything works properly, some deals will simply sell out before you can place your order. The latter is a common complaint for flash sales from Amazon, for example. But at least you're still shopping from home!
10. Luxury Goods Don't Go on Sale for Black Friday
It's true that Black Friday emphasizes lower-end electronics, however, in recent years, several luxury retailers have begun offering sales and promotions through their outlets. Stores like Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Barney's Warehouse and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th are a few outlets you can expect to participate in Black Friday sales. Plus, even Apple products go on sale now! (Check out our Black Friday clothing guide for more info on luxury items.)
11. Cyber Monday Sales Are Full of Leftovers From Black Friday
Black Friday may get all the attention, but last year Cyber Monday managed to trump Black Friday in terms of overall Editors' Choice deals (our designation for the best sales of the year, with prices we've rarely seen before). So Cyber Monday isn't a slouch, and it certainly doesn't just recirculate Black Friday castoffs. Cyber Monday is no longer a holiday you can afford to skip!
12. Doorbusters Are Always Crappy Quality
Bargain bin devices have a reputation for being bottom-of-the-barrel items that nobody wants, and you have to be careful for retailers trying to pass off questionable devices as "special edition." But over the past few years, the doobuster selections have been showing more flair than usual to entice customers. For example, we've seen rock-bottom prices on laptops with better-than-average specs, as well as eye-popping TV deals from brands you've actually heard of before.
13. Black Friday is Overrated
Sure, it's bloated. Yes, there's plenty of nonsense. And in all the chaos, some shoppers can forget that they're members of the human race. We get it. Black Friday can be crazy. But if you do your research and stick with DealNews, you can find some amazing prices out there, many of which will be the best of the year. When you know what to look for and expect, then you're less likely to get burned by Black Friday.
14. You Should Feel Bad if You Miss Black Friday
But, despite all the good deals we'll see during Black Friday, don't beat yourself up if you can't partake in the savings this year. The Black Friday season is special because it contains such a high level of amazing discounts in a short period of time, but we'll frequently see these promos again. They might require more patience and hawk-eyed attention throughout the year, but you can find many Black Friday prices again later if you miss out. It's just a matter of when.
What have you learned from your experiences with Black Friday shopping? Let us know your biggest Black Friday myths in the comments.