If you’re starting to feel twitchy in anticipation of Black Friday, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most profitable days of the year for retailers and if you play your cards right, you can get some amazing deals on big-ticket items. But you’re also at risk of getting ensnared in the excitement. That could mean seeing ads for products that seem really great, but in actuality, really aren’t a great deal. So we checked in with some of the most reliable deal and couponing reporters out there to find out where to find deals, how to be sure you’re actually saving some dough and why, more than ever, you need to read the fine print. So without further ado, we offer 7 tips for finding the best Black Friday deals.
Black Friday Deals
1. Research Products and Read Reviews
It’s really easy for retailers to slap a “Black Friday” label on any number of products to suggest that you’re getting a great deal. What do you consider a great deal? Any amount off of the suggested retail price (SRP)? Or at least 10% off the SRP? You might be surprised to find out how often an item is marked down just a few pennies and it’s promoted as a Black Friday deal. Or how many products just don’t make the grade. According to Wirecutter, the New York Times product review site, their editors found that fewer than 1% of deals they scanned met their standards for what constitutes a deal.
2. Compare Prices
And we mean compare every price on every product you’re tempted to purchase on Black Friday. According to James K. Willcox from Consumer Reports, to reduce in-store crowds, it’s anticipated that there will be more online promotions this year. So to win over a greater share of customers, retailers are more likely to keep their eye on and match or outdo competitors’ prices. The good news is that most large retailers (and small ones, too) offer curbside pickup. So you can still pick up many items same-day if you purchase from a store with a location near you.
3. Save Ads and Coupons
If a store is offering a lowest-price guarantee, they may ask you to provide proof if you do actually find that product at a lower price point. Keep a copy of coupons and advertisements on your phone so they’re with you at all times. Or you can even print paper copies, if it’s easier. Note, however, some brick and mortar stores will not meet prices offered online. Be sure to read the store’s terms and conditions before arguing with a store clerk over a $5 discount.
4. Use a Black Friday App
You practically need eyes on the back of your head to keep track of all the Black Friday deals we’re all bombarded with. But chances are, there are items you’re specifically looking for and product categories you’re interested in browsing. And then everything else is a waste of time. So downloading a good Black Friday app can wade through all of the noise and help you find the exact items you’re interested in. Nerdwallet put together a list of seven free Black Friday iOS and Android apps, including ShopSavvy (iTunes or Google Play), Rakuten (iTunes or Google Play), Flipp (iTunes or Google Play), and The Coupon App (iTunes or Google Play). All of these tools help track down deals, some provide up-to-date news about Black Friday deals and location-based discounts. Some apps also offer digital coupons and promo codes.
5. Check Start-by Date & Time
For some retailers, Black Friday actually begins a day early (or even sooner). According to Donna L. Montaldo, a couponing reporter with the Balance, some stores have special “web only deals” available starting as early as Thanksgiving day. So when you see Black Friday ads, be sure to note the date and time the deal can be activated. And this is important for another reason: if it’s a really phenomenal deal, supplies may be limited. So the sooner you go to the website or show up at the store, the better your chances are for scoring that item. And there’s one more thing to consider in 2020. According to Consumer Reports, there are significant shortages in some product categories, including consumer electronics and many types of toys and games. So those items will certainly sell out very quickly.
6. Check Every Store’s Return Policy
If you’re like us, you prefer to bring products home for a few days and then return them if we’re not crazy about the product. We do this a lot with clothes because a fitting-room mirror doesn’t always provide all the information we need when trying on new clothes. It helps to see how a sweater looks with a favorite pair of pants and shoes, for example. But over the past few years, stores have gotten a lot more strict about return deadlines. Some stores even have restocking fees. Montaldo at the Balance reports that “all the major retail chains have clamped down on requiring receipts for returns and exchanges, and many keep a database of individuals who tend to abuse return policies.” She says that ending up on a store’s abuse list is like landing on an airline’s “no fly” list. Good luck convincing them you’re not a terrorist!
7. Find Out About Deals Early
There are dozens of websites that post “leaked” Black Friday deals early. Check out BestBlackFriday.com and TheBlackFriday.com. You can even sign up for notifications so that you don’t have to check the site throughout the day.