One of my favorite refrains – especially when it comes to shopping – is don’t believe the hype. That applies to Black Friday “deals”. Experts who study consumer trends at the holidays agree that the lowest prices on the most popular gift items tend to come at other times of the year, not on Black Friday.
So if you have not bought the electronic items on your child’s wish list, don’t despair. One expert, Professor Oren Etzioni who teaches computer science at the University of Washington, has examined billions of prices of consumer electronics, and found that the best prices are out in early December. In an article in the New York Times, he said, “The bottom line is, Black Friday is for the retailers to go from the red into the black,” he said. “It’s not really for people to get great deals on the most popular products.”
The professor has launched a cool website, Decide.com that can tell you based on current and historical prices and other information, whether you should buy consumer electronics product now or wait. (There is a mobile app, too, so you can do your research in the store.)
The New York Times article also quotes Dan de Grandpre, who has tracked deals for 15 years at Dealnews.com. Mr. de Grandpre says that in the case of toys, stores actually offer the steepest discounts in the weeks immediately following Thanksgiving because they want to unload the inventory not swept up on Black Friday. So shop for toys THIS WEEK. He predicts that prices shoot back up in the week or so before Christmas, as last-minute shoppers come stampeding for items and stores are less desperate “because they’ve been able to reduce their inventory.”
Hype or no hype, here are some tips to keep in mind as you shop during this holiday season:
1 – Make a list and use it. You are more likely to spend less money if you only shop for items on your list.
2 - Get a Gift Receipt. Returns are getting tougher without a receipt. Not only that, but if you don’t have a receipt, you may only get a refund that matches the lowest price for the item, not the price you actually paid.
3 – Check for Price Guarantees. Keep checking the prices of the items you bought. You might get a refund or credit if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.
4 - Use the web to get information on the best prices. I like DealAlerter.com (a service of Consumer World). Once you register, the site will send you an email alert when items you are interested in drop in price.
What are your tips for saving money at the holidays? Did you shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?