The Facts Behind 16 Black Friday Myths

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This post comes from partner site DealNews.

When it comes to deals, few holidays beat Black Friday. Not only will you see many items at their lowest prices of the year, but you’ll also see sales on a wide range of items, from clothing to washing machines.

However, as we enter the holiday season, it’s a good idea to stay vigilant; along with great Black Friday deals come a lot of hype and misinformation. These 16 Black Friday myths are about to get busted.

Myth 1: Black Friday sales begin on Black Friday

Here at DealNews we see more Editors’ Choice deals on Thanksgiving Day than on Black Friday. In previous years we’ve even seen some deals sell out before Black Friday. (Luckily, you can use this shopping tidbit at the dinner table as an excuse to step away from your drunk Uncle Roger.) Moreover, this year there are only 25 days (four full weekends) between Black Friday and Christmas, so we expect to see retailers releasing Black Friday sales as early as two weeks before the namesake day.

Myth 2: Stores have ample stocks of doorbusters

Unfortunately many “doorbusters” are exceptionally low-priced items meant to generate buzz and lure shoppers in-store on Black Friday. Most retailers have very limited quantities of these products, and it’s likely that only the first few shoppers in line will snag them. For example, if you see a Black Friday TV deal that slashes a 55-inch HDTV to just $429, chances are high that the retailer will have only about 10 units of that item per store.

Myth 3: You need to camp out in line to get the best Black Friday deals

If you’re looking for an in-demand, limited-stock doorbuster, then being first in line when a store opens may be necessary to secure a highly coveted product. But these days, more and more Black Friday deals are available online as well as in-store. In fact, data from previous years have shown that up to 70 percent of in-store Black Friday deals were also available online for the same price — or less.

Myth 4: Doorbusters are available in-store only

Speaking of doorbusters, while their name may lead you to believe they’re available in-store only, in the past few years we’ve found that many doorbusters are available online as well. So unless you really need to escape the house for a few hours, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to purchase an advertised doorbuster online instead.

Myth 5: In-store Black Friday shopping is a dangerous contact sport

While there are always reports of overly aggressive shoppers on Black Friday, a majority of consumers actually express a feeling of camaraderie while waiting in line pre-dawn. Plus, no store wants instances of violence associated with its name in the news, so they will do everything in their power to keep things in check. You might have to deal with large crowds and a mess of inventory, but the chances of encountering an actual brawl are extremely slim.

Myth 6: Every sale you come across on Black Friday is the best of the year

Although many Black Friday deals offer the lowest prices of the year, you should probably wait to buy toys, brand-name HDTVs, and winter apparel. Toys see the deepest discounts right before Christmas, brand-name HDTVs sink in price between December and February, and winter apparel sales are best after Christmas. Be sure to consult our upcoming November buying guide for more information on what items you might not want to buy next month.

What’s more, retailers often sprinkle in mediocre discounts with their doorbuster deals in the hopes that shoppers trying to bang out all of their holiday shopping will bite on high-profit items. Plus, keep in mind that while a price for an item might be exceptionally good, it doesn’t mean that the product itself is worth your money. If an ultra-cheap TV is from an unknown brand, it might weaken the value of the deal for certain shoppers.

Myth 7: Nobody will match Black Friday prices

Last year Best Buy was one of a handful of stores that matched Amazon’s Black Friday promotional prices. Already this year Staples has announced that it too will begin price matching Amazon’s discounts. In a few weeks, we’ll publish an extensive list of stores that will offer price matching on Black Friday. Expected in the list will be Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot and Meijer, all of which met competitors’ prices last year, and in some cases offered better deals.

Myth 8: All of the good deals are printed in Black Friday ads

On Thanksgiving Day, retailers like Walmart 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 before heading in-store on Black Friday. Moreover, some retailers will respond to competitor pricing and make last-minute price cuts in order to compete. So even if you’ve already perused a store’s leaked Black Friday ad, you should continue to check for updates.

Myth 9: Leaked Black Friday ads are totally accurate

Since stores will release “secret” deals during Black Friday week, that means that early leaked ads aren’t always telling the whole story. Not only will stores alter their sales, but the fine print isn’t always present, which is crucial information if your heart is set on a doorbuster deal that will actually be available in extremely limited quantities.

Myth 10: You have to go to the Apple Store for its Black Friday sale

In reality, the entire Apple Black Friday sale will be available online with free shipping sitewide. However, in our Black Friday predictions, we actually advise against shopping this sale at all. Not surprisingly, Apple is skimpy with the discounts, and most resellers — like Amazon, Mac Connection and MacMall — will offer discounts that are twice as good as Apple’s promotions on iPads and MacBooks.

Myth 11: Designer and luxury goods don’t go on sale

While Black Friday is mainly a blockbuster event for lower-end goods, several high-end retailers have slowly broken the age-old trend of skipping Black Friday promotions. That said, don’t expect the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to offer clearance sales in their main stores. Instead, you’ll see Black Friday discounts at their outlets like Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Barney’s Warehouse and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH.

Myth 12: If you go overboard on Black Friday, you can return your purchases

Stores actually tighten their return policies considerably during the holidays, making it harder to return items. Some retailers will only offer store credit even if you have a receipt. A handful of stores are now also keeping track of serial returners and banning them. And if you don’t remember to ask for a gift receipt, your recipients might be doubly unhappy: They’ll likely receive a store credit for only a portion of the purchase price.

Myth 13: Cyber Monday sales offer better online deals than Black Friday

For those who prefer to fully digest a delicious Thanksgiving meal and not stand in line at midnight before the dawn of Black Friday, we understand. If you want to shop exclusively online, though, don’t think for a second that you should wait until Cyber Monday. The sales that pop up on Monday will indeed be good, but a majority of the best Black Friday deals are available online starting Thursday morning. So why wait until Cyber Monday to bag bargains?

Myth 14: Deals are excellent throughout Cyber Week

While a number of online retailers advertise weeklong Cyber Monday sales, the truth is that the best deals appear on Sunday and Monday only. Just as we saw with Black Friday, many of the best Cyber Monday deals have crept into the preceding day, in this case Sunday. Moreover, of all the deals we posted on the Sunday before Cyber Monday last year, 33 percent of them were Editors’ Choice deals. By comparison, only 27 percent of the deals posted on Cyber Monday were Editors’ Choice deals. By Tuesday and Wednesday, many of the best deals had already expired.

Myth 15: Once processed, all Black Friday orders are final

Unfortunately, submitting an online order — even after entering payment information — doesn’t guarantee that the items you purchased will be yours. Retailers occasionally display inaccurate inventory and will sometimes let consumers buy an item that is actually out of stock. This is a particular problem on Black Friday, given the speed of transactions.

Moreover, if a site accidentally publishes the incorrect price for an item and shoppers take advantage of the amazingly low price, a store may decide to cancel all orders for the item. Best Buy notoriously did this in 2011 when it mistakenly offered a $100 iTunes gift card for $60. The store then canceled all orders and asked customers to instead purchase the deal for the intended price of $80.

16. MYTH: Customer Service Can be Overlooked in the Name of Deals

If anything, a rush of Black Friday shoppers vying for in-demand deals is even more reason for retailers to be organized, cordial, and customer-friendly … particularly when they run out of stock! Disgruntled shoppers always complain, but nowadays they’re even more prone to texting, tweeting, and sharing negative experiences with anyone who will listen. Poor customer service also has the potential to affect public perception and drive customers away from certain retailers.

Now that you have the facts about Black Friday straight, check out our hub for Black Friday ads and features. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be!

More on DealNews:

Black Friday Predictions 2013

Black Friday and Thanksgiving Store Hours

Brand Name TVs Will See Lowest Prices After Black Friday

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