Retailers are eagerly awaiting Black Friday this year but they are not waiting around to start their shopping-sale craziness. However, there are some details that shoppers should think about before making that mad dash Friday morning and hit up the bargains. Retailers desperately need Black Friday to put them over the top for the calendar year. This is even more true in a shaky economy that seems to be on a continuous roller coaster ride. The shaky economic just means that these retailers will be even more aggressive in their sale tactics to attempt to lure the buyer.
Stores are deploying more and more strategies (and getting better at them) than ever before. One of their most cunning tricks is to try and get the buyer to use their credit card to make that holiday purchase. It is easy to get caught up in the moment but if you would not have made the purchase in July then why would you make it in November or December? Here are six ideas that you should pay attention to during this hectic shopping season.
- MSRPs are useless. Many Black Friday deals howl about the huge percentages off the “manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” but these MSRPs are misleading. MSRPs change from retailer to retailer, even for the same sale item. Pay no attention to the original MSRP as it is a sale-tactic that has shown to lure in non-educated buyers.
One example: Filenes Black Friday advertises a T-Fal 16-piece cooking set for $58.99, down from a “normal” price of $168.99. A savvy shopper on Filenes’ website can now purchase that same cooking set for $118.99. The Black Friday price is still a better deal but not nearly as good a deal as you have been led to believe. The T-Fal website shows that you can only purchase that set through Filenes. It lists the price at $98.99. If you put the model number into Google it also turns up other retailers, priced in the $90 to $99 range without any special price.
- Having to send in a rebate to get the deal. Many retailers advertise Black Friday discounts, then say in small print below the eye-popping numbers that you must send in a rebate to get the steal. Here is what they know: You probably will forget. Research has shown that only around 40 percent of rebates actually get sent in. Stores know these research facts and are willing to bet that the consumer will forget to mail it in and actually get the advertised price.
Many Black Friday ads will only permit one rebate for the address listed. This simply means that if you are so inclined to purchase several of the same great sale items to gift to friends and family, you probably are out of luck on redeeming more than just one rebate. This could also mean that if you attempt to redeem more than one item then you could have gifts with the UPC code cut out of the gift.
- Trying to apply for a store credit card could be damaging. Retailers use Black Friday to get consumers to come in and apply for a store credit card to maximize savings. Stores will often use 15 or 20 percent discounts for just applying. Just remember that each attempt at scoring a credit card takes points off of your credit score which could hurt you later in trying to purchase a car or home.
One way your credit score is impacted is by the inquiry into your credit history that is made when the shopper applies. A shopper with an established credit score may only see a drop of one or two points. This means that a shopper with a younger credit history could really take a hit every time that a store runs their credit card application. This could result in a lot of credit damage to a consumer who is trying to take advantage of a better deal.
- That door buster item might be misleading. Some products are advertised at huge discounts on Black Friday are known as “derivative products” or items that are made by the same company and look almost like the standard model but with a few very important model changes. Consumer Reports researched derivative electronics in a 2009 study and discovered that these items are generally made more cheaply, often with less-expensive components, and that they may be missing features that would normally be found on the base model it represents. The magazine says that top brands like Sony and Samsung have manufactured derivative TVs in past years; we’ve seen laptop and printer bargains from companies like HP in this year’s Black Friday ads that seem to be derivative as well.
How can you tell if you are purchasing a derivative item or not? Check the model number. This number is usually the culprit because it will be slightly different than the model number of the item it seems to look like. Just go online and do a model number search to see if distribution is limited to one store, which would help determine that it is a product made just for that business to meet its door buster advertisement.
- Some deals are already available and sometimes the consumer can even do better than the Black Friday ad suggests. This year’s Black Friday ad from Office Max includes an 8GB flash drive made by SanDisk for seven dollars, but it is currently available on the Barnes and Noble.com marketplace for a little as half that.
- Credit card price protection can sometimes help you save. If you purchase an item and then discover it on sale somewhere else within a certain time (most likely 60 days), check to see if you qualify for the lower price. Your first action should be to go back to the store where you bought the item that you now have found at a cheaper price. Bring with you a copy of the Black Friday ad because some retailers will actually give you money back when you present the ad. If they do not, document the lower sale price and reach out to your credit card company.