For seasoned shoppers, Black Friday offers an endless array of best-of-year sales. However, not all the deals are good, and for the uninitiated, Black Friday can be overwhelming. Plus, with so many conflicting views on the holiday, it can be easy for a shopper to "do it wrong."
So as we approach the holiday season, DealNews is not only here to bring you the best Black Friday deals, but to also dispel the Black Friday myths from reality so you can shop smartly this year.
1. MYTH: Black Friday Sales Begin on Black Friday
There's no stopping the holiday creep and this year we expect the majority of Black Friday sales to commence on Thanksgiving Day, if not earlier. In fact, there's a good chance that you'll see more Editors' Choice deals on Thanksgiving Day than on Black Friday, and some of the best deals might even sell out before Friday. Moreover, this year there are only 26 days (three full weekends) between Black Friday and Christmas, so we expect to see retailers releasing Black Friday sales as early as two weeks before the namesake day. Other retailers may start teasing their sales come late October.
2. MYTH: Stores Have Ample Stock of Doorbusters
"Doorbuster" deals are exceptionally low-priced items meant to generate buzz and lure shoppers into stores on Black Friday. Most retailers have very limited quantities of these products, and it's likely that only the first few shoppers in line will snag them. However, we expect to see more retailers offer "guaranteed doorbusters," which won't be as scintillating, but have traditionally still been quite good. (Find out more about guaranteed doorbusters here.)
3. MYTH: Doorbusters Are Available In-Store Only
While doorbusters are advertised in advance to bring shoppers in-store, over the years the competition between retailers has become so fierce that these hot deals have increasingly also made their way online. Data from previous years has shown that up to 70% of in-store Black Friday deals were also available online for the same price — or less! Because online sites, namely Amazon, will price match even the hottest in-store offers from brick-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, many feel pressure to release deals online as well.
4. MYTH: In-store Black Friday Shopping is a Dangerous Contact Sport
Watch the evening news and you'll see plenty of Black Friday mobs, fights, and brawls. Fortunately, most holiday shoppers will never witness such events. Sure, there will always be reports of overly-aggressive shoppers on Black Friday, but a majority of consumers actually express feeling a sense of camaraderie while waiting in line predawn. Plus, no store wants instances of violence associated with their name in the news, so they will do everything in their power to keep things orderly (including beefing up their staff). You might have to deal with large crowds and a mess of inventory, but the chances of encountering a real brawl are extremely slim.
5. MYTH: Every Sale You Come Across on Black Friday is the Best of the Year
Black Friday is the best time of the year to go on a shopping spree, but as we stated earlier, not every sale you encounter will merit its best-of-the-year branding. Some general categories see better prices later (like winter apparel, which will drop significantly in price come January), while there will always be just average prices nestled in amongst those doorbuster deals. That means shoppers have to do their research in order to save during Black Friday; know what you want, be flexible if you can, and don't bite if the price doesn't seem right. Also check out our monthly buying guides for overall category trends.
6. MYTH: Nobody Will Beat Black Friday Prices
Amazon is every big-box retailer's worst nightmare because it always undercuts the Black Friday sales of many brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, big-box retailers such as Best Buy have started price matching Amazon's Black Friday promotions. In a few weeks, we'll publish an extensive list of stores that will offer price matching on Black Friday. Expected in the list will be Best Buy, Home Depot, and Meijer, all of which met competitors' prices last year, and in some cases offered better deals.
7. MYTH: All of the Good Deals Are Printed in Black Friday Ads
Everyone loves a secret sale, so on Thanksgiving Day retailers will release additional Black Friday deals that weren't in their earlier circulars. Moreover, some retailers will respond to competitor pricing and make last-minute price cuts in order to compete (a further reason why some stores won't advertise all their deals in advance). So even if you've already perused a store's leaked Black Friday ad, you should continue to check for updates because secret sales could show up as the week approaches.
8. MYTH: Leaked Black Friday Ads Are Actual Leaks
Once upon a time, Black Friday ad leaks were actual scans of ads that were questionably posted to the internet for shoppers to analyze in advance of the big day. Now, stores wield their ads strategically, releasing sneak peeks for rewards members or previewing the ads for select media, all to control the flow of information to their greatest benefit.
9. MYTH: You Have to Go to the Apple Store for Its Black Friday Sale
Though you'll see consumers flock to the Apple Store on Black Friday, the truth is Apple's holiday sale is among the worst. Traditionally, they've offered discounts of up to 10% on select devices, but last year Apple ditched the discount and instead paired those same products with Apple gift cards. Unfortunately, the sale was disappointing and retailers like MacMall, Best Buy, and Walmartoffered significantly better deals. As a result, this year we're again advising shoppers to avoid the Apple Store. Unless you're in the market for an Apple refurb — which is a great way to save money on Apple devices — there's no reason to shop from Apple during the holidays. (Read more about our Apple Black Friday predictions here.)
10. MYTH: Designer and Luxury Goods Don't Go on Sale
Black Friday is a blockbuster event for low-end goods from stores and manufacturers you may not be familiar with. However, in recent years several high-end retailers have broken the age-old trend of skipping Black Friday promotions. But rather than offer promotions from their main brands, luxury retailers have let their outlets do the dirty work. 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. (Check out our Black Friday clothing guide for more info on luxury items.)
11. MYTH: If You Go Overboard on Black Friday, You Can Return Your Purchases
Stores tend to tighten their return policies during the holidays, making it hard for consumers to return items. Some retailers will go so far as only offering store credit on returns, even if you have a receipt. A handful of stores are also keeping track of serial returners and banning them. And if you don't remember to ask for a gift receipt, your recipients might be doubly unhappy: they'll likely receive a store credit for only a portion of the purchase price.
12. MYTH: It's OK to Skip Cyber Monday if You Shopped on Black Friday
Black Friday may get all the attention, but last year Cyber Monday managed to trump Black Friday in terms volume of Editors' Choice deals, which is our designation for the best sales of the year with price lows never before seen. And it was precisely those types of deals that flooded our homepage last Cyber Monday. So shoppers take note: Cyber Monday is no longer a holiday you can afford to skip. (To find out what deals are the best on Cyber Monday, click here.)
13. MYTH: Deals Are Excellent Throughout Cyber Week
While a number of online retailers advertise week-long Cyber Monday sales, the truth is the best deals appear on Sunday and Monday only, with some holding over to Tuesday. Just as we saw with Black Friday, many of the best Cyber Monday deals have crept into the preceding day, in this case Sunday. Last year, for instance, we posted four times more Editors' Choice deals on Sunday and Cyber Monday combined than we did for the remainder of Cyber Week.
14. MYTH: Once Processed, All Black Friday Orders Are Final
Unfortunately, submitting an online order — even after entering payment information — doesn't guarantee that the items you purchased will be yours. Retailers occasionally display inaccurate inventory and will sometimes let consumers buy an item that is already out of stock; this is a particular problem on Black Friday, given the speed of transactions.
Moreover, if a site accidentally publishes the incorrect price for an item, and shoppers take advantage of the amazingly low price, a store may decide to cancel all orders for that item. Best Buy notoriously did this in 2011 when it mistakenly offered a $100 iTunes gift card for $60; the store then canceled all orders and asked customers to instead purchase the deal for the intended price of $80.
15. MYTH: Your Credit Card Info is Secure
Unfortunately, the only guaranteed way to safeguard your personal information this holiday season is by paying with cash. However, we understand not everyone can reasonably do this. So the best way to avoid data hacks this holiday season is by taking multiple precautionary measures when shopping online. Pay with credit rather than debit, update your passwords, and keep a close eye on billing statements to ensure your card hasn't been used by thieves elsewhere. Should a security breach occur, immediately contact your bank and report your losses.
16. MYTH: Bargain Bin Devices Are Always Cheap Quality
Bargain bin devices have a reputation for being bottom-of-the-barrel items that nobody wants, be it movies, laptops, or apparel. However, this past year budget products have been showing more flair than usual. That's because some of these items, such as entry-level 42" HDTVs and ultra-cheap laptops, simply cannot get any cheaper. So to make them more appealing, retailers have given them more panache. For laptops, that means you'll find budget machines with better-than-average specs. In the case of TVs, it means finding budget 42" sets from name-brand manufacturers, instead of just off-brand models. Ultimately, it's a win for shoppers because you get more value for your dollar.
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