Black Friday shoppers may want to reconsider tradition, because waking up early and standing outside in long lines in the freezing cold won’t necessarily help them score great deals.
For consumers, getting the best deal means sorting through door-buster specials, Internet offers and maybe just waiting until the whole holiday rush has passed.
In many cases, the sheer number of shoppers on Black Friday means stores can make profits without too much discounting. Holiday shoppers will find better deals in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas, or at other times of the year, analysts say, though they also caution that waiting too late in the season risks missing out on popular name-brand products.
“There’s no reason to ruin your Thanksgiving or get up at 4 in the morning to maybe save 10 percent,” said Jessica Patel, a personal finance analyst with Bankrate.com. “It’s just not that good of a deal.”
But that may not stop dedicated shoppers from pulling all-nighters outside their favorite retail outlets after Thanksgiving dinner.
“Black Friday is the one time of year that consumers expect retailers to pull out all the stops,” National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis said. “Black Friday is the day. It’s the Super Bowl for shopping, and people still want to see those great deals on that day.”
The best goods
The key is knowing which products will feature the best discounts and which ones to avoid.
Electronics, toys, jewelry and watches are among the items that price-conscious consumers should avoid on Black Friday, analysts say, while they still may be able to find good deals on video games, Blu-ray movies and kitchen items.
“There are plenty of good deals to be had; you just need to know what to look for,” Ms. Patel said. “I feel like the allure of Black Friday, a lot of it is a tradition by people who love to shop. So if they enjoy shopping, they will still have fun going out and finding deals.”
Electronics are always in demand this time of year. Some of the most popular door-buster sales will feature televisions, but they will be made from brands less popular than Sony or Samsung.
“You can get a TV for cheap, but it won’t be that 3-D, top-of-the-line TV,” Ms. Patel said. “You’ll still get a decent television, but just not the top-tier television.”
Instead, the best time to buy televisions is in January, leading up to the Super Bowl, when retailers are trying to get rid of their old televisions to make room for the new models.
“Throughout the year, those name-brand products will get marked down and will see significant price cuts,” Ms. Grannis said. “It just won’t happen on Black Friday.”
Limits on deals