15 Black Friday myths busted

Black Friday has the best prices of the year? Nope. Not true.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 27, 2011 1:29PM

This guest post comes from Dealnews.

 

At Dealnews, our job is to help you get the best possible price for what you want to buy and to keep you from getting hoodwinked while you're shopping. It's with that in mind that we go into the holiday shopping season with some trepidation, because along with great Black Friday deals come a lot of hype and misinformation.

 

We can't tell you how to score a better parking space at your local mall, but we might just be able to brighten your day by dispelling these common Black Friday shopping myths:

  • Myth: Black Friday sales begin on, well, Black Friday. Actually, most major retail chains will start debuting Black Friday sales online on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. (Amazon even announced that its Black Friday offerings this year will begin several days before that.) In years past, we've even seen some deals sell out before Friday, which means you can use this shopping fact as an excuse to step away from any too-intense family time on Turkey Day.
  • Myth: Doorbusters are free. Whaaa? Believe it or not, many people believe that Black Friday is the day to score freebies. This myth may be what lures people to sleep outside a store overnight, but most doorbusters are just low-priced items meant to create frenzy. If you find a free HDTV on Black Friday, please send us a photo of it alongside your pet unicorn.
  • Myth: Black Friday deals are so good, they're worth sleeping overnight on a curb for. These days, more and more Black Friday deals are available online as well as in-store. In fact, last year, Target offered several of their doorbusters online, where a stacking 10%-off coupon also applied. That means that select items were actually cheaper if you just stayed home and shopped online. It may not be worth camping out for Black Friday sales, where you'll likely just get shoved around as the 500 people behind you rush in at your tail.
  • Myth: Nobody will beat Black Friday prices. Nope, not true. In a few weeks, we'll put out our list of stores that offer price matching on Black Friday. (See last year's list.) Major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot and Meijer offered various policies regarding price matching last year, and in some cases, they not only matched, but offered a better price. Post continues after video.
  • Myth: Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (.pdf file), the Saturday before Dec. 25 is actually the busiest shopping day of the year, with only an estimated 35% of respondents planning to do any holiday shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Myth: Prices on Black Friday are the lowest of the year. Although many Black Friday deals offer the lowest prices of the year so far, we will eventually see many sales matched or beaten later on. It just depends on whether you're willing to wait. Also keep in mind that retailers will often sprinkle in mediocre discounts with their doorbuster deals, in the hopes that shoppers will bite on high-profit items.
  • Myth: Black Friday is the best time to do all of your holiday shopping. While it's true that several types of items will be available at rock-bottom prices, select categories will actually be cheaper if you wait. For example, you should probably hold off on toys, winter apparel, and brand-name TVs. Be sure to consult our upcoming November Buying Guide for more information about the best and worst things to buy in November.
  • Myth: If you have buyer's remorse, you can always just return your purchases. Not so fast! Stores tighten their return policies considerably during the holidays, making it harder to return items. Some retailers will only give you store credit even if you have a receipt. A handful of stores are now also keeping track of serial returners and banning them. If you don't remember to ask for a gift receipt for each item you purchase, your recipients might be doubly unhappy: They'll likely be offered store credit for only a limited portion of the return. Bah humbug!
  • Myth: Signing up for a store credit card for an extra discount is a no-brainer. If it's really that good for you, do you think stores would try to upsell you so hard? There's a reason why most people decline these offers, not the least of which is the fact that retailers dangle these kinds of offers to get consumers to overspend. Also, as we noted a few weeks ago, opening new lines of credit can affect your credit score, so you have to consider how long you'll keep a store's card, whether you will pay the card off each month, and if it will harm your credit the next time you need a mortgage, car loan, etc.
  • Myth: All of the good deals are printed in Black Friday ads. On Thanksgiving Day, retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy have historically advertised additional Black Friday deals that weren't in their circulars. These "secret" deals are only found online, so the trick is to uncover them on the Web on Thursday so you'll know about them when you arrive at the store on Friday. Keep an eye on our Black Friday ads section for new listings.
  • Myth: Leaked Black Friday ads are accurate. In fact, they are often inaccurate or misleading. Last year, we jeered several retailers for advertising discounts that we just couldn't find.
  • Myth: You have to go to an Apple Store in person for its Black Friday sale. In reality, all of Apple's Black Friday sale prices will be available online with free shipping sitewide. However, in our Black Friday predictions piece, we actually advised against shopping the Apple sale, as most resellers -- like Amazon, MacConnection, and MacMail -- will offer discounts that will be twice as good. Plus, in some cases, they may also offer a sales tax advantage.
  • Myth: Black Friday is the best day to buy a new TV. Yes and no. While we'll see the lowest prices of the year for several HDTV sizes, they will largely be attached to off-brand models. If you're looking for the best deal on major brands like Samsung, you'll likely see those discounts in December or later when these manufacturers release their new models for 2012.
  • Myth: Big-ticket electronics need extended warranties. Not necessarily. This time of year retailers lower their prices, and then need consumers to purchase add-ons to maintain a profit margin. Don't be talked into buying a long, pricey warranty if you know a one- or two-year plan will do the trick. It's cheaper to buy a techie friend dinner in exchange for help than paying for in-home setup.
  • Myth: Cyber Monday offers the same caliber deals online as Black Friday in-store sales. For those of you who'd rather fully digest your Thanksgiving meal and not stand in line starting at 3 a.m. on Black Friday, we understand. Shopping for the best deals can be exhausting, but if you wait until Cyber Monday you will be missing out on some of the highest markdowns of the holiday season. Coming out of your tryptophan daze on Monday, you'll definitely see retailers' sales, but these bargains are essentially the leftovers from the Black Friday feast. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, many Friday offerings will be available online, so you really have no excuse for a late start.

More on Dealnews and MSN Money:

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

42Comments
Oct 27, 2011 6:46PM
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Here's a way to beat Black Friday.  Shop at your locally owned small businesses.  There aren't the insane crowds, you get friendly personalized service and most likely will get just as good a deal (if not better) than the big chain stores.  And, then you help keep local business open, which in turn means more money in the local economy.  It sure beats lining the pockets of Sam Walton's family.
Oct 27, 2011 2:58PM
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Why don't we just buy a nice card and shove some money in it. The recipient can get what ever he/she needs/wants and you don't have to go trough the headache of trying to figure out who need what, just so they can return it/ leave it in the closet/ re-gift it.

Oct 27, 2011 6:06PM
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spent 20 years in retail I've seen people in wheelchairs flipped over, old women fighting, and more thievery than wall street.  and for what?  crap that gets returned the next month because they want cash.  forget gifts do something nice for your loved one...it goes a lot farther than crap from china.
Oct 28, 2011 12:09AM
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I plan to be finished with my Christmas shopping before black friday. I don't shop during Nov. and Dec.  Several years ago my oldest child was due the first week of Dec. so I spent Sept. and Oct.  getting  my shopping done early. It was the most relaxing christmas ever(despite a fussy newborn). Now I start looking for gifts in June buying a little at a time, by time Nov. rolls around I'm done and I can enjoy the holidays without the stress of shopping.
Oct 27, 2011 4:27PM
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After working at Bestbuy for 4 black fridays, I have to agree with the article.  The only good "deals" were just crappy branded items or closeout items that weren't really saving you anything.  Best Buy usually brings in low budget items only for the purpose of selling cheap stuff on black friday.  Then you don't see those items for the rest of the year because.. well.. they are crap.  So you do get a cheap tv.. but certainly not a good one.. even if it is a Samsung or Sony.  Keep in mind that no store in their right mind is going to sell something under cost and lose money on an item, and most tv's aren't marked up high unless you go into really high end stuff.

 

Also, stores leak fake ads on purpose because they don't want other retailers finding out what deals they will have.  BB leaked fake ads on purpose(not to consumers).  So definitely don't but too much into those leaked ads. 

 

Expect to get little to no help, not have a parking spot, super long lines and to walk out spending more than you should have or would have if you had just gone on a different day.  Worst day of the year by far for shopping and for retail employees. 

Oct 27, 2011 3:18PM
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I have worked retail for over 20 years now, black Friday is possibly the worst day of the year to go shopping unless you get really excited about crowds, long waits, long lines, no parking spaces and that Christmas Spirit (grumpiness).  If you need to go to the grocery store, however, this is probably one of the best days to go besides maybe New Year's Day.
Oct 27, 2011 4:13PM
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Myth: One should always give gifts to friends and family.  Not necessarily.  Use your head and only buy something you can pay cash for, or, if unable to purchase anything, don't.  If you think that the person you didn't get a gift for will not like you, great!  You will be better off without them in the long run.
Oct 28, 2011 7:06AM
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you are a moron for getting up at 3am for black friday.  You can get better deals on line and the Saturday before Christmas.
Oct 27, 2011 3:25PM
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Here's a myth about Black Friday.... It's a great day to leave the house! Good grief, I DESPISE that time of year. You can't drive anywhere, can't eat anywhere, can't go to the store to pick up a few common items. I pretty much hide in a cave until New Year's Eve.
Oct 27, 2011 4:17PM
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I don't think that saving 10% on a pair of jeans is worth getting arrested or serving jail time for the bodily harm I could potentially cause a great number of people swarming for deals on Black Friday.  I'd rather save my money, retain my sanity, and preserve my squeaky clean criminal record.
Nov 1, 2011 12:17PM
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How about instead of "Black Friday" chanqe to "I really don't qive a **** Friday"Thumbs up
Oct 28, 2011 2:36PM
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You bunch of racists! I demand you refer to it as "African American Friday" from now on!
Oct 27, 2011 7:59PM
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I went to Black Friday at walmart 3 years ago. That was a mistake, because when I went back to Walmart

2 weeks later the same items that I had went to get on Black Friday was at the same price.

Oct 27, 2011 8:16PM
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When I was a kid, black friday meant free donuts at all the stores and since my parents were strict about junk food, I took advantage!  Good times...

My FIL waited in line at Walmart last year to get me a new computer.  Faulty hardware, HP denying that was the issue, several thousand of family pictures gone forever due to bad advice from India.  Was it worth it?  NO!!
Oct 28, 2011 2:02PM
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@ hold on playa

 

 "Black Friday" indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or "in the black."

 

that's why they use Black Friday. Some stores even use "Red Saturday" or when stores lose money the day after black friday from everyone returning all the stuff. just an FYI

Oct 27, 2011 4:02PM
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All "Black Friday" is, is to get people to buy, buy, buy.
Oct 28, 2011 10:57AM
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I always shop on BF, not for the deals but just for fun. I usually don't buy much, but I do enjoy all the excitement in the stores.
Oct 27, 2011 11:16PM
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A couple of years ago, my son went to Wal-Mart on BF, and the item he was buying was a name brand for a good price. He did get to buy it for the advertised price; but, the guy in line behind him ended up with a citation for public disturbance and a written criminal trespass if he ever returned to that store. The reason: he threatened to take the item my son had, along with his place in line (he didn't see the uniformed police officer two feet from him). Last year, I worked at a different Wal-Mart, and we had four police officers in the store when the BF sale started - one to cover each quadrant of the store. I'm glad my son wasn't hurt, and I'm glad nothing happened at the store I was at; but, personally I NEVER go to ANY store for BF. I will shop either online, or I go to stores during the week. And, I never go to the shopping mauls at Christmas either. Most stores, regardless of the name, will only have about 15-20 items of what is advertised. It's not an illegal practice, as they do have the product in stock until those items sell out. And, as mentioned in other comments, most items are off brand. Few are actually name brand that will last. (and the spelling of mauls was intentional).
Oct 27, 2011 7:56PM
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Black friday the biggest scam of the year. people crowd the malls to buy old electronics 4 example someone told last black friday they bought an HDTV real cheap, then they said it was a 720p, wow they got him, I did not know they still made 720p's. thats what Black friday is 4 to sell old **** or if they do have 1080p tv's they are called Daeyoo or some name you never heard of, or if by some chance they have a nice brand name they only have less that 10 of them, and people die trying to buy one. Stay home total scam. I do enjoy watching those idiots on tv waiting in line to buy junk to give as gifts.
Oct 27, 2011 6:28PM
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the stores advertise a cheap price on something and then only have 10 in stock for the 100 people standing in line, and they wonder why their is a problem. It is fun just to watch the way people act during that day.
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