Millions of Americans look forward to shopping and getting the best deals on Black Friday every year. In fact, Black Friday, which occurs the day after Thanksgiving, is the biggest shopping day of the year. It also seems to be the unofficial kickoff to the Christmas holiday shopping season, as shoppers look to get great bargains on the year’s hottest gifts. Retailers look to capitalize on these enthusiastic shoppers to boost their sales revenues going into this important period for their businesses. However, shoppers need to be aware of some of the tricks that retailers use to crank up sales and get them to spend more of their hard-earned money. By paying attention to a few details, you can maximize your spending power and get the most out of your holiday shopping dollars. Here are a few retailer tricks.
Before Black Friday, many retailers will raise prices on the targeted sales items in order to make it appear that you are getting great deals on Black Friday. For instance, they may raise the price on an item in the weeks before Black Friday just so they can slash off a big percentage the day of the sale. What looks like big savings on the price tag may be just a small percentage off the regular price of the item. This tactic is in use widely and in every category in the retail segment. Be especially mindful of this when looking to purchase big-ticket items such as televisions, computers, and other electronics.
Lower quality products
Retailers will often take a hot item and advertise it as a Black Friday sale item, when, in fact, the actual item on sale is one of a lower quality. Sometimes, this is in the form of a lower quality item by the same manufacturer or a less expensive model of the product. It’s important that buyers know the specifications of the products they are looking to buy. This is especially important when buying items such as cell phones, tablets, and computers. Cell phones, for example, sometimes offer different memory options in the same release, or may release a couple of new products very close together. Unwittingly, buyers may assume they are getting the latest and greatest product when, in actuality, they are getting an older model.
Beware the fine print
Many retailers will produce sale flyers aimed at enticing buyers with flashy headlines and graphics and the promise of huge savings. Anxious buyers generally do not bother to read the fine print and find themselves frequently disappointed when they end up at the store. The fine print usually includes sale exclusions and terms of the sale that do not match the expectations of buyers. Look out for headlines that use words such as “Huge Storewide Savings” or show large discount percentages. Most likely, the fine print will include requirements such as having to do a mail-in rebate to actually end up with the advertised price, or it’ll list excluded items that are, most likely, the ones everyone is looking to buy.
Retailers are not in the business of losing money. However, they also know that big advertisements of popular items will drive traffic into the store. The more customers they bring in, the more products they will sell. Therefore, very often, they will stock limited supplies of very popular items in order to keep from selling a lot of product at deep discounts. However, they’ll still be able to capitalize on the advertisement of these items by driving shoppers into the store. Again, you’ll generally find these details in the fine print of the advertisement. Advertising that there is a limited supply of popular items is also a sales tactic in itself. This is what causes shoppers to camp out outside stores and risk trampling once the doors open just to get the item desired at the advertised price before it’s gone.
Bait and switch tactics
Bait and switch is a tried-and-true sales tactic that retailers depend on to boost their holiday sales. By offering limited supplies, retailers know they can entice buyers into the store who are very motivated to purchase these items. Upon discovering that the store is sold out, they are offered a more expensive model of the product. In order it soothe their disappointment, they will often opt for the more expensive model and end up spending more than they intended.
Retailers use expert merchandising and product positioning when trying to drive big Black Friday sales. Big-ticket items might be near the rear of the store forcing shoppers to walk by hundreds of other items in hopes that they’ll find other products they want to buy. In addition, retailers will surround their more expensive items with appropriate accessories, trying to get buyers to increase their spending with add-on items.
Savvy retailers will line their checkout lines with hundreds of items designed to promote impulse buys by customers. During busy times, customers may be in line for several minutes, giving them plenty of time to decide they really need that item that they don’t really need.
Putting obsolete or older items on sale
Retailers will very often utilize the Black Friday super sales to move out older inventory to make way for the newer models coming onto the scene for the Christmas shopping season. Shoppers should be mindful to check model numbers and features of items to make sure they’re getting the versions they want.
Also, check the condition of the items you’re buying. If they’ve been in the store for a while, they could be damaged or not in good condition. In addition, older inventory may be returns, so check to make sure there are no missing parts or accessories. Be careful when buying deeply discounted, older inventory, as some retailers will mark them as a final sale, meaning you would be unable to return it to the store if you decide you don’t want it.
Early bird sales
One trend seen in recent years is the retail industry starting sales on Thanksgiving Day rather than the day after. Retailers use this tactic to entice shoppers into their stores earlier and before they’ve a chance to visit their competitors. The problem is that shoppers will sacrifice special holiday time. Additionally, this practice encourages retailers to open on holidays, which is a hardship on their employees who are unable to spend holiday time with their families.
Retailers will also use this practice to sell hot items at a higher price due to demand among shoppers and the fear that the retailer will run out of the product. Chances are strong that shoppers will get a better price by waiting until actual Black Friday.
Internet shopping perils
Many prefer to shop on the Internet rather than fight the crazy crowds in the stores. However, shopping online can put you at a disadvantage if you are looking for a certain product at a discounted price. Many times, there will be restrictions placed on Internet sales and limited availability. Be sure to check the hours of availability and be ready to log on as soon as the product becomes available. Very popular items in limited quantities will go very fast, obviously.
As you can see, you need to be a savvy shopper to avoid these retailer tricks and tactics. By being smart and following a few tips, you can avoid paying too much and get some great deals on Black Friday. Here are some ideas to consider:
In order to get the most out of your Black Friday experience, you need to know where to go and when to get there. In addition, you’ll need to be efficient in order to take advantage of sales at multiple stores. Look for websites that specialize in aggregating information for shoppers on what products will be on offer where and at what prices. Knowing this information will help you organize your potential purchases well ahead of the big day.
Get apps for the stores you plan to shop
Downloading the apps from your chosen stores can help you get a leg up on your competition: other shoppers! Many stores will give advance notice of sales to those that have the app downloaded to their device. Sometimes, stores will offer exclusive deals that are only available for purchase through the app itself. Last year, Amazon offered over 100 items that were exclusively for app users.
Save on shipping costs
Make sure you avoid high shipping fees from smaller retailers. Many times, these retailers offer a product at a deeply discounted price and will then make it up by overcharging you for shipping. Retailers know that many shoppers don’t pay much attention to shipping charges. The big retailers, such as Walmart and Target, will usually offer free shipping and allow you to return products at no cost if you decide you don’t want them.
Pick your purchases carefully
Some items aren’t going to be at the best price during the Black Friday sales. For instance, buying winter clothes on Black Friday is usually not a great idea, as the best deals on those items usually occur at the end of the holiday season. Consider giving gift cards that are usable after Christmas.
Other things that you may be able to get a better deal on by waiting are Christmas and other holiday decorations such as ornaments, lights, and other festive items. Many times, these items are at deep discounts after Christmas and into the New Year.
Are you shopping for a good deal on a vacation? The holidays are not the ideal time to find your best deal on cruises, flights, or hotels. After the New Year, things slow down considerably as money is tight for many shoppers. Those in the business of selling vacations will begin to seduce potential travelers by offering great deals in the early part of the year. As things warm up and get closer to summer, prices will begin to rise again, so be sure to lock those travel plans down in the first quarter of the year.
Don’t save your shopping for Black Friday
Everyone tends to procrastinate when it comes to holiday shopping. Retailers depend on these consumer habits to fuel their sales and profits during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shoppers can make it easier on themselves by shopping all year and spreading their purchases over a longer stretch of time. Not only does it open up many opportunities for great savings, but it can also take a lot of the stress out of the holiday season. In addition, consumers have the ability to spread their holiday gift expenditures over the entire year, which eases the financial burden that can sometimes overshadow a family’s enjoyment of the holidays.
Getting into the habit of keeping a keen eye throughout the year for opportunities to buy great gifts could help you stretch your dollars and enhance your holiday experience.
Being effective in getting the best deals when you shop for your holiday purchases is a combination of knowing the pitfalls and tricks that retailers will throw at you and managing your money and purchases in the smartest way possible. Don’t let retailers get the best of you this shopping season. Have fun, save money, and enjoy your holidays more by knowing the ropes!