For some people, Black Friday is considered a contact sport. They will make every effort to be the first to arrive when the store opens. For others, it’s a chance to shop with a friend or two and get into the holiday spirit. Whether you’re the first one out (or logging in online) every Black Friday, it’s important to understand how retailers have learned to squeeze every last cent out of their “sale prices.”
They raise (then lower) prices.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a good coffee maker. As you wander into your favorite department store, you find a model whose price has been reduced from $75 to $45. Confident that you won’t get a better deal than the $30 discount, you make the purchase.
It is not against the law for a retailer to raise prices or manipulate the size of the discounts it offers. Unless you tracked the item down, you have no way of knowing if it was actually priced at $75 or if $45 is the regular price, but it has a fancy sale sticker on it.
Shopping Tip for the Holidays: Make a list of items you would like to purchase as soon as possible. Then, give yourself time to scroll through the Internet to get an idea of the regular average price. Note that price next to the product in your listing. If you want to end the month with some extra money in your bank account, check the list often to avoid overpaying.
You may find a replica of the item you wanted
When you see Black Friday ads this year, keep this in mind: The products advertised may be so cheap because they are of low quality. For example, if you’ve been shopping for a 65-inch television for months and a brand you respect has a surprisingly low price, it might seem like the smart thing to buy.
But retailers and manufacturers partner up for Black Friday, and produce lower-quality versions of popular products that will attract larger numbers of shoppers.
Shopping Tip for the Holidays: Whether you’re looking for televisions or dishes, make note of the specific brands you’re interested in along with the model numbers. To know if an item is truly discounted, it’s important to make sure it shares a model number with a more expensive version.
Price matching is not guaranteed
Price-matching offers are common in both brick-and-mortar stores and some online businesses. However, before you rely on it, you need to check with the respective retailer. Some stores suspend price matching specifically during Black Friday weekend.
Shopping Tip for the Holidays: Don’t assume that price matching will be available on Black Friday. Your best bet is to ask before you start shopping.
One price is not available to all
If you’re planning to do some of your Black Friday shopping online, you may want to pay attention to the less impressive sales. Most online sites use browser cookies to track shoppers. Those cookies store information about how you spend money online.
Shopping Tip for the Holidays: If you’re not usually one to negotiate, set your web browser to incognito mode. Incognito mode hides your past cookies, so you can’t be identified by your past shopping habits.
It’s easy to get overly excited about scoring Black Friday deals. However, the goal should be to make a plan and buy only items that fit your budget.
WARNING: The highest cash back card we’ve seen so far has 0% intro APR until 2025
If you are using the wrong credit or debit card, it can cause you serious money loss. Our experts love this top pick, which includes a 0% intro APR for 15 months, a great cash back rate of up to 5%, and all with no annual fee.
In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.
Read our free review