Hitting the stores for Black Friday shopping? Here are some things to remember.
▪ There are no rain checks. When the store runs out that’s it.
Items usually run out online even before the stores open. I’ve watched stacks of the hot TV on the cover of the Target’s Black Friday circular disappear into shoppers’ carts less than five minutes after the store opens (this year that’s a no-name 50-inch HDTV for $249.99). But as these heavily promoted events have evolved, shoppers in line are handed a paper saying they’re assured the hot item.
▪ Price matching on Black Friday is dicey. Dealnews.com has a rundown of policies from major retailers. This year J.C. Penney sweetened its price match on national brands to include a 5 percent discount.
▪ So what is that price you want to pay? Do a few cents or dollars matter that much in the end? Don’t wait for that hot toy to go on sale, said Rebecca Lehmann, content manager at Chicago-based Brad’s Deals. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying a ridiculously inflated price by a re-seller on eBay or other marketplace sites on Amazon or Wal-Mart.
This year, Lehmann said, that toy is Hatchimals, a furry creature that hatches from an egg. It’s already sold out in many stores. But Wal-Mart has said it would re-stock for Black Friday, discounting the $59.99 toy to $48.99. For toys not on the hot list, the overall category will be discounted again a couple weeks before Christmas, Lehmann said.
Another category worth waiting until after Black Friday is jewelry, she said.
▪ Missed out on a luggage set or a small kitchen appliance last year? Well there’s a good chance it’s there again this year. Stores repeat offers from year to year because they sell out. Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s are offering $19.99 women’s boots again this year. Retail consultant Michael Appel told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s like playing your greatest hits.”
▪ Some brands rarely go on sale like Nest home electronics, Lehmann said, but are discounted this week. The best prices all year for popular brands of small appliances from Keurig and KitchenAid, for example, are this week.
▪ If a promoted item gets a prime spot on the circular cover but there’s no brand name, “that means it’s not worth mentioning,” said Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert, and maybe not worth buying. If you’re eyeing a specific brand and model laptop and see it advertised for $50 less, that’s a good deal, Woroch said. But a no-name TV, which many have come to refer to as a Black Friday TVs, may not have the features, components, inputs and other specs you want. So the price isn’t always the only factor to consider.
▪ Print circulars are alive and well, and still filled with exciting deals, but they’re posted early by the retailers themselves on their own websites and embedded in their mobile apps. Many of the deals are offered now. You don’t have to wait until Thursday or Friday.
▪ If you’re worried a gift may be returned, check out the store’s policy. It may be different this time of year. The best return policies for items purchased after Nov. 1, start the 30-day return window on Dec. 25, Lehmann said.
▪ Do decide on your out-of-town gifts by Dec. 16, which is the last day that many retailers will offer free shipping on packages guaranteed to be delivered by Christmas. That’s also Free Shipping Day when the list of retailers offering the break on shipping grows significantly and includes several smaller merchants.
▪ Shop with a strategy, said Woroch. Leave the house with a list of items and prices. Otherwise you risk blowing your budget. And don’t wander from store to store to check out their sales. Your list will keep you from making impulse purchases.