On Your Marks, Get Set, Shop

How to get the most out of those Black Friday deals

Black Friday may still be a few weeks away, but we’re already starting to see deals rearing their heads. Veterans of the day know that while there are certain to be some winners in the mix, others aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s how to play the game.

Know the parameters. We live in a world where it’s commonplace for some of your favorite stores or sites to always be running sales. If 25% off the whole store happens every other week (or so it seems) then that becomes the real price and true sales have to feature deeper discounts. In general, if the item is marked at 20% off the typical sale price, then it’s a good deal, says Casey Runyan, Managing Editor for Brad’s deals.

Compare to be sure. Consumerworld.org has a price checker tool that compares prices for thousands of items in one database. You can look through to see when the product was the cheapest and compare it to the price on the Black Friday tag, says Edgar Dworksy, Founder and Editor of ConsumerWorld.org. Runyan recommends checking the prices that big retail stores are promoting and compare them with each other. “Not everything you see is a good deal,” says Ramhold. Start looking now to weed through the “filler deals” and find the ones that are really worth it.

Bundles can be promising. Look for items that come with a bonus or a bundle, says Runyan. Typically, retailers have to sell an item at a price set by the brand, but they can add extra items (an extra pot or pan, an extra video game) to give the buyer a better value. They also might offer a gift card or cash back option, she says. Getting more bang for your buck is always a good deal.

Stick to your plan. Whether you’re hitting stores or sites on Black Friday (or the days around the holiday) you should do it with an idea of what you’re shopping for specifically. Then, stick to it. Black Friday is all about the game — getting consumers’ blood pumping because of the excitement of the sale. Try to resist the FOMO, says Runyan. And if an item is final sale and can’t be returned? Steer clear says Julie Ramhold, Consumer Analyst with DealNews.com. That goes double if it’s a gift.

Know what days are best. Finally, years of shopping on Thanksgiving followed by Black Friday then Small Business Saturday then Cyber Monday have taught us some lessons on what to buy when. Runyan says to get your appliances in store on Black Friday but to shop Cyber Monday deals on apparel from home. Ramhold says to focus on technology on Black Friday and beauty and toys on Cyber Monday. And just remember — if it’s 50% off, it’s still 50% on. In other words, no sale is worth it if it’s not something you would have purchased in the first place.

Happy Shopping.

With Rebecca Cohen

Jean Chatzky