Doorbusters and Black Friday exposed

Just what is a doorbuster?  According to a doorbuster is are ultra-cheap items that brick-and-morter stores sell to lure shoppers into their stores.    Some examples might be a 40 inch television for $98, a blue ray player for $29 or brand name jeans for $5 a pair.    Notice that the description used the word “lure”.    That is implying that the deals have an ulterior motive.   Well, they do.  Doorbuster deals are a marketing tool used to do just that – encourage shoppers to bust the doors down.

Say Big Deal Electronics has a TV set for the before mentioned $98.00.   Big Deal only has 10 of these televisions on hand.   On Black Friday at 5:00 a.m. 500 people are in line and jump over each other to get the sets.  The first ten good runners get the TV’s.  Question-will the other 490 people leave angry?   Well, yes and no, some will leave but most will compensate their lost sleep and freezing extremities on the many other items on sale.

Some might be saying that this is false advertising.  But if you read the fine print under each ad it says that each store, if a chain, will have limited quantities.  It depends on the store what limited quantities mean.  For a chain like Best Buy or Wal-Mart that quantity could be 50 televisions per store.  Whereas a sole-proprietorship like Big Deal would only have 10 or less in his store

Is that $98 TV set worth standing out in the cold?   Only you can answer that but let’s look at an example to clarify the deal.  We have 500 people waiting outside the Big Deal Store.  Only 6 televisions are available and they are in the back of the store.  Mr. Johnson is 2nd in line and wants a TV for his bedroom but he is not a fast runner.  So he enlists the speed of his grandson to go gather it for him.  Ms Smith is 14th in line and wants a set for her daughter.   Her husband was a track star in high school and is still in great shape, he will run the relay for her.  Mr. Jones is 33rd in line but he is just there for the excitement and the DVD’s that are $2 each.    At 5:00 a.m. when the doors open the mad dash begins.   Mr. Johnson’s grandson and Mr. Smith are the first 2 to get the televisions.  Mr. Jones was actually in 3rd place but got sidetracked by a Karaoke machine on sale that he purchased for his brother. 

So some people were very happy but many were disappointed.  Now look at what kind of buy the first 6 received. Rarely will you see a top of the line product for a very cheap price.  The television they were going for was not a Sony or Samsung but an off-brand.  Sometimes they are an off-off-brand.  Still a good television but the retailers did not lose very much revenue on the sale.   For instance let’s say that television usually sells for $179 normally.  So the store lost $81 per set or $486 for the 6.    Also say that shoppers 11-13 purchased a Sony 40 inch TV on sale for $250 each.  The store made $750 on those sales and recouped the lost revenue on the doorbusters.    So the store made money and the shoppers did not leave empty handed.  But who got the better deal?  It depends on what the shoppers’ motivation was. 

If they merely wanted a good working TV for a rock-bottom price then the first 6 were truly happy.   If quality and the name of the product is important then shoppers 11-13 got the better deal.

So if you do want to go for the big deals how do you start?  Well landing a doorbuster on Black Friday takes more than swift feet.  First you have to know where the deals are.  Then you need to compare to see what the best deals in town are.    The year-round website called gives you access to the ads long before you can see them.   It also helps you to compare quality and price at different retailers.

Shopping on Black Friday has become a sport and the goal is to get there first. gives some great advice to land the deal of your dream.  It includes to research them beforehand.  Don’t just go for the cheapest items you see get the best item you can.   Next being the first in line is the only way to guarantee you will get the deeply discounted item.    Lastly forget the cold and the long lines.  Go shopping in your pajamas online.  Many of the best deals can be found there these days.    In fact in many instances the online deals are the better deals.  So make sure you point click and compare before you put the plastic down. 

A great example of the online deals is   They are redesigning Black Friday into Black Friweek.    All this week the online retailer is offering their Black Friday deals now today right this minute.    The deal is good until quantities run out.  Every 10 minutes a new deal is revealed.  As of this writing two of the deals available are an Xbox  360 for $179 and DVDs like Pulp Fiction, Grease and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids for under $5 each.   

Bottom-line don’t take any Doorbuster at face value.     Remember they are a ploy to “lure” you in the store for the larger priced items.  Look at the geography; you will never see a doorbuster deal at the front of the store.    They are in the back so when they are all gone you have to go back through the rest of the store to escape.    Before you do, chances are something will catch your eye.    Make sure that “something” is worth the trek.