Black Friday sends swarms of people flocking to retailers, even camping out for days in some cases, to snag the year’s supply of doorbuster deals, but CNN reports that the perception of getting a bargain is deceptive. NerdWallet analyst Matthew Ong reveals that retailers are repeating last year’s deals on the same models, which in some cases are now outdated. Others are filling the bargain shelves with lower quality versions of the merchandise so it may not be worth the sale price for a product that could very well not last out the year.
Selling off the older merchandise at bargain basement prices may make sense for retailers trying to make space for the newer models, but outdated versions can cause problems for the consumer, particularly with fast-advancing technology and electronics. A NerdWallet study found that 93 percent of retail stores surveyed are replaying the same discounts on last year’s models. The analysis of 27 Black Friday ads found 25 retailers with at least one repeated price on the same product. Not only are stores, such as Target, Office Depot, Walgreens and PetSmart, recycling price points, but they found that the so-called “unprecedented” deals are deceptive, often appear at identical prices during other parts of the year.
The enticing percentage difference between the “regular” price and the sale price often deceives the customer into thinking he is getting a good deal when he is not. Ong cites an example of Sears listing a TV’s original price at around $1200 instead of the just over $800 price they were selling it for in early November, thereby boosting the perceived discount from $200 to $600. He advises Black Friday customers to tread carefully and look for exact specifications, brand names and model numbers when comparing deals so they know if it is the high quality brand model or a cheap look-alike.
For all the hype around Black Friday, consumers labor under the deceptive perception that the deals on that day are better than any other time, but this is simply not true. Ong further recommends that shoppers develop a strategic plan and self-control before heading into the sale frenzy to avoid overspending and be aware of categories, such as winter clothing, that will have better prices after New Year’s. Discounts on toys often drop even further closer to Christmas. Adobe Digital Index analyst Tamara Gaffney reports that Thanksgiving Day sales actually win in the bargain hunting game.
Watch out for regular-priced items beckoning from next door to the doorbuster deals, poised to separate the customer from her hard-earned money if she does not have a plan and stick to it. Look for deals online as well because some online retailers, such as Amazon, will meet or beat the Black Friday deals offered at the brick-and-mortar stores. Managing editor of BensBargains.com, Kristin Cook told CBS that the chances of snagging a memorable deal without camping out are slim to none. In addition, Gaffney warns that Cyber Monday is one of the worst days to shop online because the early birds have already exhausted the available inventory.
Ong advises customers to shop smart by doing their homework and researching the deals, not only for the big day but historically over time to avoid the deception phenomenon. Consumers should look for where or when they can get the same or a better deal before getting sucked into the illusion of an unbeatable Black Friday bargain. He suggests that Twitter and Facebook can be good places to find deals, as well.
The important thing to remember, according to Rachel Cruze, a popular personal finance speaker and best-selling author with the Lampo Group and renowned financial advisor, Dave Ramsey’s daughter, is for consumers to relax and get some perspective on their quest for the best deals. Shoppers need to keep in mind who they are shopping for and why they give gifts in the first place instead of letting the shopping frenzy drive them into breaking their budgets over items that will not even matter a few years down the road. She and her father both advocate for people to make a holiday budget and stick to it without letting the deceptive advertising tactics strong arm them into buying stuff they can’t actually afford. Self-control and perspective on Black Friday will save consumers from hijacking their finances and allow them to enjoy the holiday season without the cloud of worry over the bill coming in January.
By Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Image courtesy of Diariocritico de Venezuela – Flickr License