How to check for great Black Friday deals – Forbes Advisor
Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.
The holidays are right around the corner, which means it’s time to start hunting for the best shopping deals.
A recent Shopkick survey reveals that three-quarters of consumers say sales and promotions will influence them the most when it comes to starting their holiday shopping this year, likely due to high inflation and the threat of recession.
But when deals are a priority, how can consumers resist being fooled by the marketing tactics retailers use to attract customers?
Not only has inflation made everything more expensive, but e-commerce has completely reshaped the shopping experience. Many bargain-hunting benchmarks no longer apply, so here’s what you need to remember.
4 Ways to Check Your Black Friday Deal Is Really a Deal
There are so many different shopping “holidays” out there these days, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, that it’s hard to figure out which one gives you the best deals.
These four tips will help you know if you’re getting a good price on items on your shopping list.
1. View the MSRP
Before you start digging through sales ads, write a list of the products you want and start researching their MSRPs.
MSRP, or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, is the price at which a company recommends its product be sold. MSRPs take into account various factors, such as manufacturing, production and selling costs. By creating MSRPs, manufacturers can keep the price of their products generally the same at the stores that sell them.
As the name suggests, the MSRP is a suggestion, so it’s not what you might see an item listed at a big box store. Retailers may reduce prices below MSRP to encourage spending or increase prices above MSRP if a product is in high demand.
To find the MSRP, go to the website of the brand of the product you plan to buy. If the brand sells its own products, the original price is the MSRP. For example, on the Dyson website, the Dyson V8 Absolute vacuum, at the time of writing, is on sale for $349.99; its original price of $499.99 would be the MSRP.
Another benefit of checking the MSRP is that manufacturers can offer a similar version of a product you’re looking for elsewhere, but at a lower cost. For example, on the Walmart website, a Dyson V8 vacuum similar to the one on sale at Dyson for $349.99 was $499 – and the Dyson website deal comes with bonus cleaning accessories.
Buying from discount stores doesn’t always mean you’ll get the lowest price.
2. Check price history
The internet can make shopping easier, but it also enables real-time dynamic pricing. This means that product prices are constantly fluctuating, even changing several times a day. This constant price change can make consumers wonder if they’re getting the best price now or if they should wait a few hours, or just two minutes, before hitting the buy button.
Amazon’s dynamic pricing strategy is driven by a complex algorithm. The strategy considers a variety of factors, including demand, inventory, how often you viewed the product, and even the time and day you viewed it.
Looking at a product’s price history is one of the easiest ways to see if you’re scoring a deal or if you should wait.
Take the example of a Ninja air fryer. According to Amazon’s price tracker CamelCamelCamel, its price on Amazon has fallen below $90 multiple times in the past 12 months, and not just during the holidays. Buying before or even after the holidays could help you get the exact same deal, so there’s less pressure to buy during a sale period.
Popular price tracking apps include Paypal Honey, ShopSavvy, and PriceBlink. These apps, which are all free, allow users to set up price alerts for specific products. ShopSavvy also includes price history data.
3. Be flexible when buying different models
If you’re looking for a big-ticket item this holiday season, like a TV or computer, you need to make sure the model you want matches the model on sale. Or to get your money’s worth, you might want to be flexible about which model you buy.
Many of the big Black Friday door-to-door deals on televisions and other electronics are often for what are known as derivative models. Brands often create these models specifically for holiday sales so they can be sold at an attractive low price, but they’re usually scaled-down versions of what’s popular.
Purchasing a derivative model does not mean that you will get an inferior product. According to Consumer Reports, TVs derived from major brands work as well as their parent models, despite being hundreds of dollars cheaper. Brands usually partner with a specific store to sell this model; if you see a TV advertised as “only available” at a specific store, it’s probably a derivative model.
Factory outlets follow a similar strategy. Although consumers may visit a luxury brand outlet hoping to get a new handbag or a new pair of shoes at a low price, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t you won’t get the latest model and the price tags might fool you. how much you will “save”.
“Often these items are made specifically for the point of sale and have never been sold or offered at the ‘compared to’ price you see on the label,” says Kristen Gall, retail and shopping expert at Rakuten. “If you like quality for the price, outlets can be a bargain, but you shouldn’t take outlet store ‘regular price’ at face value.”
4. Consider shipping and return costs
Even if you get a bargain on the price of an item, there are still two factors you need to consider: shipping and return costs.
Not only has the pandemic severely disrupted supply chains, but it has also driven up the cost of each of its logistical links. Rising shipping, transportation, fuel and wage costs are eating away at retailers’ profits. According to Optoro, a reverse logistics technology company, in 2021 processing the return of a $50 item costs retailers $33 on average. In 2020, it cost them an average of $29.50.
Retailers pass these costs on to consumers. More and more e-commerce brands are starting to increase their order minimums for free shipping, and some are even charging customers for online returns made by mail. JCPenney, for example, now charges a flat $8 shipping fee for online mail-in returns.
Before you’re happy with the clicks with online orders, read the fine print about the cost of delivery and whether or not you’ll be charged for a return. Even if you save money on the purchase of the product, these less obvious costs will reduce the amount you will actually save.
Read more: Why free returns may soon be a thing of the past
Is it time to start holiday shopping?
If you can’t wait to start your holiday shopping hoping to save as much money as possible, you might consider starting now, but it depends on what you want to buy.
Gall advises consumers to buy items high on their priority list as soon as they find them, indicating there’s a chance they’ll sell out early, including electronics. If you’re looking to start saving now, popular big box stores are slashing prices on large overstock from the summer to make room for holiday stock.
Others say it might be worth waiting until the last possible minute to do your holiday shopping. If you’re a casual buyer who doesn’t have a specific wishlist, you can delay shopping until the last minute to get the biggest discounts.
“This year, those willing to wait may get the lowest prices,” says Ross Steinman, consumer psychologist and professor of psychology at Widener University. “Retailers who are setting time-limited inventory overhangs will do whatever they can to liquidate before the end of the holiday season.”
Before hitting the stores and doing your research for deals, arming yourself with a shopping strategy will also help you maximize your savings. Consumers often charge their holiday purchases to credit cards, which inflates their balance during the holiday season. Saving money now can help limit overspending.