Buyer beware: Black Friday deals that aren’t so great

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Buyer beware: Black Friday deals that aren’t so great
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According to Nerdwallet, three out of four Americans plan to shop on Black Friday this year — and spend 4.5 hours in the craziness. But which deals are really worth your time and effort?

Before you head out into the Black Friday madness, here are a few things to know:

  • 20 retailers repeated at least one deal and had it listed for the exact same price as last year — which means that 95% of retailers are repeating some Black Friday promotions from last year.
  • Some retailers offered better deals in their earlier November promotions, such as Sam’s Club and Sears.
  • The survey from Nerdwallet found that people plan to spend 20% more this year: $529 compared to $440 last year.
  • It will take the middle class 1.3 months to pay off their Black Friday purchases, instead of the 2.6 months it took in 2014.
  • Belk has 80 deals from 2014 that are repeated this year, while Macy’s has 60 of the same promotions. 

Read more: 10 great Black Friday deals worth waiting in line for

Watch out for deceiving ‘deals’

Some retailers engage in the practice of inflating the original price of an item so they can say an item is 60% or 70% off. 

For example, Nerdwallet reported that a Samsonite Luggage Cape 21-inch carry-on bag is selling for $99.99 this Black Friday, with an MSRP of $260. However, the price of the of the suitcase earlier in the year was $116.99, and a Veterans Day discount brought the item to $99.44. The least expensive price won’t be on Black Friday — it already happened on Veterans Day! 

Katrina Chan, NerdWallet shopping manager, said, ‘It’s important for shoppers to ignore the Black Friday percent-off claims, as it’s very likely that the advertised amount of the discounts may be inflated.’ She added, ‘Instead, shoppers should look at the sale price of the item and determine if it’s a price they’re willing to pay.’

So be sure to look at the actual price of an item and the percent of discount. It also helps to shop around at different stores online to make a price drop is actually worth the lower price.

Many Black Friday discounts happen more than once a year

With all the buzz around pre-Black Friday deals, when is the best time to actually buy?  

In some cases, pre-Black Friday deals have been better than what will be available on the actual day of Black Friday.

For example, the Kenmore Elite 23.7-cubic foot French door bottom-freezer refrigerator will be a part of Sears’ Black Friday sale at $2,299.99. But the refrigerator was on sale earlier this month for $2,184.99. That means the price increased by $115! 

Read more: Online Shopping Guide: How to get the best price possible

2014 deals better than 2015? 

It’s true — some discounts were better in 2014 than they will be on Black Friday this year. Nerdwallet also reported the KitchenAid 4.5-quart Classic Plus Stand Mixer being on sale for $199.99 on Black Friday last year at Belk, while this year, it’s $219.99. That’s a $20 increase! 

It might be that retailers are aware that shoppers are going to spend a little more this year than last year due to a slightly improving economy, but if a product is getting older, both history and economics tell us it should drop in price. 

“It appears that Americans are splurging a little more when buying holiday gifts this year,” says Chan. “One could attribute this to a lower unemployment rate compared to last year. What’s also interesting to note is that while consumers may be comfortable spending more, they’re doing so responsibly and plan to pay off their purchases quickly.”

Read more: 10 Black Friday deals worth waiting in line for

Tips for Black Friday this year

To sum it all up, it definitely pays to be a savvy shopper this year. Follow these tips to ensure you get the best price!

  • Never buy anything until you have price-matched your potential purchase with other retailers. This app can help you do just that! Also check out these apps for holiday shopping. 
  • Use a credit card with price protection. This means you get refunded the difference if the product price goes down after you buy! 
  • Take advantage of credit card bonuses. Some bonuses are specific to the retailers where you plan to shop, so make sure you check if there are any cash-back offers relevant to your shopping list! 

Watch: Is this the best credit card in the country right now? 

Check out other ways to save money on holiday shopping and all year long on our Deals and Savings page

To see the full Nerdwallet study, click here.

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