Black Friday Study: Avoid shopping traps by targeting 37% off or greater discounts

Black Friday, Shopping
black_friday_electronics.jpg

NerdWallet steers shoppers away from enticing come-ons by highlighting the good, bad and ugly.

In an analysis of more than 1,000 electronics and computer deals from 13 retailers’ 2012 Black Friday advertisements, NerdWallet found that the average discount was 37% off.

Key takeaways

  • Electronics and computers were marked down an average of 37% on Black Friday 2012
  • Software and printers and ink are two of the most deeply discounted electronics and computer subcategories, with respective average discounts of 52% and 48% off
  • Retailers are stingier with deals on laptops, desktops, and video game consoles and bundles. Laptops are marked down an average of 28%; desktops are slashed 25%; and video game consoles and bundles deals average 24% off.
  • Fry’s Electronics offered the best deals that NerdWallet surveyed, offering an average of 50% off, with Shopko coming in second, offering 41% off. The most conservative retailers were Costco, marking down electronics and computers only 26%, and Sears, which offered its wares for 32% off on average.

Savvy shopping

The industry standard for Black Friday deals on electronics and computers is a markdown of 37%, meaning that savvy Black Friday shoppers should target deals of about 40% off or greater.

“With the great doorbuster deals of Black Friday come store margin-protecting ‘deals’ as well,” says Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at NerdWallet. “Shoppers should know what a reasonable target markdown is for their desired electronics and computer items so they don’t get suckered into below-average sales.”

Many shoppers make impulse purchases on Black Friday, get caught up in the frantic action of the day and neglect to research before adding to their carts. Shoppers can use the baseline 37% off to protect themselves from overzealousness.

“If you’re unfamiliar with the true value of an item – which is unfortunately common in this era of inflated MSRPs and impulse purchases – comparing a retailer’s discount to the industry average can help determine whether the Black Friday deal is a good one or a bad one,” Ong says.

Consumers, for example, should expect to see markdowns averaging around 52% on printers, and should be wary of any Black Friday printer deal that fails to exceed 50% off. In contrast, a laptop deal for 50% off greatly exceeds the Black Friday laptop average of 28% off, suggesting that the laptop deal is a much rarer find and a good buy.

Demand drives the differences in discounts, depending on product categories.

“Software and printers are simply less attractive buys than video games and laptops for consumers with gift-giving on their minds,” adds Ong. “It’s not surprising to see more desirable categories such as tablets and TVs averaging smaller markdowns, as retailers have less wiggle room to cut these products, because they’ve already been competing on price in October and November. Retailers also can offer a few doorbuster TV or tablet deals to gain attention, then offer run-of-the-mill sales on the rest of their inventory to take advantage of Black Friday’s frenzy.”

Shoppers should be cautious when benchmarking off percentage markdowns, too, because stores often inflate the MSRP price, artificially inflating the markdown number. Shoppers should price compare as much as possible to realistically gauge how much a product generally retails for, and keep in mind that the newest and hottest tech products will see smaller discounts than older models.

Methodology

NerdWallet surveyed 1,085 electronics and computer deals from the 2012 Black Friday ad scans of Best Buy, Costco, Fry’s, hhgregg, Kmart, Office Depot, OfficeMax, RadioShack, Sears, Shopko, Staples, Target and Walmart for this study. NerdWallet then categorized the deals into 14 subcategories, such as “Tablets,” “TVs” and “Home Audio and Theater” and cut out any deals that either did not fit one of these subcategories or did not have calculable percentage markdown, resulting in a sample size of 571.  The 37% off average is the average markdown of these 571 items.

About NerdWallet Shopping

NerdWallet Shopping builds tools and provides analysis for shoppers to find the best deals on their retail buys. For Black Friday, NerdWallet Shopping reviews every retailer’s leaked ad scan so shoppers can plot out their trips ahead of time, armed with deal-hunting knowledge. NerdWallet Shopping also provides information such as Black Friday store hours, Black Friday news recaps and advice about Black Friday 2013.

Data Tables

Table 1 – Average % Discount on Electronics and Computers, by Electronics and Computers Subcategories

Electronics & Computers Subcategories Average of Percent Saved
Computer Hardware 55.09%
Software 51.77%
Printers & Ink 47.66%
Car Electronics 43.23%
Monitors 39.79%
Phones 39.53%
Cameras 38.94%
Home Audio & Theater 39.14%
TVs 32.07%
Tablets 32.17%
MP3 Players 29.82%
Laptops 27.76%
Desktops 25.03%
Video Games 23.88%
Grand Total 37.00%

Table 2 – Average % Discount on Electronics and Computers, by Store

 Retailer Average of Percent Saved
Best Buy 37%
Costco 26%
Fry’s 50%
HHGregg 35%
Kmart 34%
Office Depot 38%
Office Max 38%
RadioShack 33%
Sears 32%
Shopko 41%
Staples 37%
Target 39%
Walmart 34%
Grand Total 37.00%

Couple in electronic store via Shutterstock.