Black Friday is profitable for retailers because they can sell their current year-end inventory to make room for 2013 products. This is why many of the Black Friday deals are on older models and off-brand products.
Here's how to avoid the top Black Friday traps and still nab the best deals this holiday season.
Many doorbusters are extremely low-priced, meant to get you to wait in long lines to rush the stores. Read the fine print in the ad. You may notice doorbusters in very limited supply (such as 10 per store). Also, retailers are counting on you not leaving their store empty-handed after making the effort to get there, so if you don't get the deal you want, you will buy something else.
Target announced they would match prices of online retailers during the holiday season. And at Walmart there is now an offer to put an item on layaway now, then pay on Black Friday (and get the Black Friday pricing).
Read the fine print on Target's website: Nov. 22–24 are excluded from price matching. Target lists other exclusions, including doorbuster and early bird specials, Amazon's Daily Deals, Lightning Deals, and Gold Box Deals, so read the terms carefully before making purchases. Walmart will price match Black Friday ads of local competitors, but not online deals. I checked with three local stores. One said “yes,” the other two were unsure of the news.
Save yourself a ton of frustration and stress by calling and making sure your store is participating. Also keep in mind that their layaway policy clearly states that they will have limited hours on November 23. If you want to take advantage of Walmart's layaway promotion, make sure you purchase the right SKU item and return to pay for your item on Black Friday. If an item is only priced during certain hours, you must be at Walmart to pay for them during that time.
Last, through the end of December, if you use PayPal to buy an item, and then see it for less within 30 days, PayPal will credit you the difference. However, like Target, the offer does not extend to Black Friday deals.
Many people think they must shop an Apple Store to get the best deals on Apple products. But, all of Apple's Black Friday sale prices will be available online with free shipping. And, Apple has never been known for significant Black Friday savings. You can often check sites and stores like Amazon, Mac Connection, Fry's, Best Buy and MacMall for lower prices.
You may be familiar with a store's return policy, but it can change over the holiday shopping period. Some stores shorten their return window. This information may be included in Black Friday ads, but if it isn't, check with the store before you buy. Stores should have return policies posted for easy viewing.
And always ask for a gift receipt and include it, so your recipient can receive a full credit if the gift is exchanged.
Bait And Switch Trap
Some retailers will place similar items at a higher markup next to their "doorbuster" and "early bird specials." When a promotional item runs out of stock, customers will look at the item next to the empty shelf and oftentimes purchase it instead, so they come home with a similar gift. Only buy what is on your list unless you know that your alternate gift is really a great bargain.
I Lost My Receipt Trap
Pay for everything with your credit card to stay safe. This ensures that if an item is returned because it’s faulty or you change your mind, you will not get the “current lowest price” because you misplaced your receipt. Most retailers can check your purchases with a simple swipe of your credit card. If you pay by cash and have no paper trail to back up the amount of your purchase, you stand to lose the difference between what you paid and the current lowest product price.
Cyber Monday Trap
Cyber Monday is the catchy name that designates the Monday after Thanksgiving as the day for online shopping. However, there's no reason to wait until Monday, and delaying could cost you a deal if supplies run out. Some of the best Black Friday deals will expire or sell out before 10 a.m. ET on Friday. Depending on your priority level, you may want to get in line Friday morning to ensure you get what's on your list.
Last, only shop at reputable sites. Many fake sites pop up during the holidays to separate you from your money. Don't use non-secure Wifi hot spots to make purchases, and always use your credit card and not debit cards online.