For many retailers, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving isn’t just another shopping date on the calendar. It’s a pivotal event that determines annual success or failure. Yes, we’re talking about Black Friday.
However, the truth is that not all Black Friday retailers play by customer-friendly rules. Here are some of the most common tactics that retailers use to manipulate people into spending, spending, and spending some more:
Free doorbusters are almost always in extremely short supply.
If you plan on camping out at a nearby box big store to grab a so-called “free doorbuster” — which could be anything from a pair of headphones to a TV to a boxed set of How I Met Your Mother — beware: there are usually very, very few of them available.
Free offers often have strings attached.
You’ve heard that there’s “no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, there’s usually no such thing as a free offer from retailers, either even if a sign company creates a great banner or poster for a business. If you read the fine print of that banner or poster, you’ll often discover that in order to haul your freebie home, you also have to buy something else — like a washing machine, or a vacuum cleaner, a blender…you get the idea.
You probably won’t be able to price match.
Stores love advertising that they price match, because it saves them a fortune in advertising and marketing costs. After all, spend money to promote a sale on ironing boards (or whatever), when a competitor can foot the bill? Plus, people who price match usually end up putting other stuff in their cart that retailers earn a healthy profit on. However, there is an exception to this — and yes, you guessed it: in most cases (we’re talking 99% of cases), you won’t be able to price match any Black Friday deals.
The discounts can seem bigger than they really are.
It’s against the law for retailers to artificially pump up the price of an item, in order to immediately drop it and claim that it’s massively on sale. For example, if an electronic store normally sells a Blu-Ray player for $150, it can’t hike the price to $300 for 10 minutes, cut it to $150, and claim that it’s 50% off. Yet with this being said, on Black Friday many retailers offer deep discounts on a limited number of poor selling items, and then offer pretty ordinary and unimpressive discounts on hotter selling items. So yes, there may be 50% off on some Blue Ray players. But the one that you and most other people want might be reduced by a mere 10% or 15%. Yes, this is pretty lousy for retailers to do, but no it’s not illegal.
BOGO is usually not your friend.
Black Friday retailers love BOGO — buy one, get one — because the vast majority of people instantly assume that they must be getting a great deal. Surprisingly however, this is not always the case. This is because on any other day of the year, the item in question might be on sale. But on Black Friday because of BOGO, it’s sold at sticker price. For example, a hoodie with a sticker price of $60 might be on sale for $25 the day before Black Friday. And then on Black Friday, you get two for $60 — or $30 each. See how this works?
The Bottom Line
The message here is that you shouldn’t boycott Black Friday sales, or that all retailers are deceptive and manipulative. There are some good deals out there, and a few great deals. The message is that to win the Black Friday game, you need to do your research, have a game plan, and stay focused. Good luck!