Retailers may claim to be offering the best deals this Black Friday, but how can consumers tell if they're actually saving money or just getting scammed? Here are a few things shoppers should look out for when hitting the stores this holiday weekend:
- Make sure to read the fine print on the ads, because, more often than not, it lessens the value of sales. "Limited quantities," "no rainchecks" and "while supplies last" are just a few of the key phrases shoppers should look for. Chances are if these phrases appear next to a sale, it isn't a good bargain.
- Be mindful that retailers will often understock blowout sale items. They do this to lure customers into buying higher-priced merchandise, because they realize no one will want to leave the store empty-handed after waiting in line for hours.
- Be wary of high price mark-ups. Retailers will increase the price of an item in the time leading up to Black Friday just to mark it down again so that consumers think they are getting a deal, when in actuality, they are just paying the regular price.
- Pay attention to the total price of an item, including shipping and handling. Although it may appear that one site is offering a much lower price than another, some sites make up the difference by charging more to ship the item.
- Keep in mind that Black Friday may not even be the best day to shop. A recent analysis of electronics prices from mid-November to mid-December, conducted by the price-prediction website Decide.com, found that for certain models of televisions, laptops and cameras, the lowest prices of the season were not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. "Specifically, more than a quarter of the recommended TVs and cameras were at least five percent cheaper between Cyber Monday and Dec. 13 than they were earlier, including during the Black Friday weekend," the report stated. So it probably wouldn't hurt customers to hold off on shopping for another week or two.