On your mark, get set, go!
It’s time to enjoy the most anticipated deal day of the year, but before you hit any stores or load up your cart, follow these three steps to ensure your Black Friday 2014 trip will be a success.
1. Research the Price History
As simple as it may sound, the first step toward finding the best possible Black Friday deal is being able to determine what is a deal and what isn’t. Interestingly enough, not every product sold on the day after Thanksgiving is actually a bargain, and just because a retailer advertises an item as “on sale,” don’t assume it’s a good one.
Stores have been known to list an “original” or “regular” price in their Black Friday ads alongside the special discounted price. The difference between these two prices is the amount customers are supposedly saving by shopping during the seasonal discount event.
The problem is, unbeknownst to many shoppers, sometimes those original prices aren’t actually what the item is normally sold for during non-sale periods. Retailers often inflate the original price to make the sale price appear that much more impressive.
So instead of being captivated by those big, bold percent-off claims, pay attention to the actual price the item will be selling for instead. You’ll want to ensure the amount of the sale is indeed worth your time and effort. Will you be getting the product for substantially less than you would on other days of the year?
Do some research to determine the fair market price of whatever product or products you’re hoping to purchase. How much were they sold for earlier this month? What about earlier this year? What about on Black Friday 2013? Thanks to the Internet, conducting a quick online price search is as easy as the click of a mouse.
2. Compare Among Competitors
After you know what an item is worth – and what you’re willing to spend on it – you’ll want to do some comparison work. It’s not just fair market value you should consider when making a purchase; you’ll also need to take into account prices among competing retailers.
Pay attention to whether the deals require mail-in rebate forms to achieve the low price, come with free bonus gift cards, have a doorbuster price guarantee even after inventories run out, etc. The answers to these questions can determine the quality of a deal, and they may help you decide which one is the right fit for you.
And it’s more than just price that goes into making one deal more appealing than another. Consider as many other aspects of the Black Friday experience that you can as possible. This may include the time the store opens (too early for you?), how popular the retailer is (lines too long?) and the quantity of items available (too few in stock?). Or, if it’s the atmosphere that’s most important to you, you may want to avoid stores with a reputation for rowdy crowds.
All of these factors could tip the scale in favor of one store over another.
3. Price Match for the Best Possible Deal
Finally, there’s one last measure you can take in an effort to guarantee you’ll be getting the best deal this Black Friday – price matching.
In price matching, shoppers show a store proof of a lower price on an identical product from a different retailer. Ideally, if a store honors price matching, you have the potential to get yourself the best bargain possible on every item you buy – without having to purchase different items at different stores.
If you can, try to price match as much as possible during the holiday season. But before you do, be sure to check the price matching policy of the retailer you’ll be shopping at this Nov. 28, as many stores suspend their price matching on Black Friday. One retailer that will be price matching in-store is retail giant Walmart, known for its “Ad Match Guarantee.”
Shopping-cart race image via Shutterstock