How to Spot Fake Black Friday Deals

Traditionally Black Friday deals offered items slashed in price to entice consumers to head out in the dawn the day after Thanksgiving. Essentially these deals were designed for ambitious individuals looking to be the early bird that catches the worm. Often these fantastic deals were limited to limited quantities, and/or only offered during few hours in the early hours on Black Friday.

This no longer seems to be the case.

Retailers are hyping up sales and, in some instances, not really offering true deals at all, some might even call them fake Black Friday deals. Some retailers are plugging the Black Friday ‘brand’ on sales, but realistically these specials are not the deep discounted sales consumers historically expect to find. However being the branding associated with Black Friday is immensely popular, many consumers might think they are getting savings.

Here are a few things to look out for when shopping Black Friday to avoid fake deals:

• Regular Price

Many retailers may try the old tactic grocery stores are notorious for, tactics such as changing the pricing sign to look like a sale when in reality the price is ordinary everyday pricing. Watch for signs that might state “Buy 2 for $10.00” where the regular price is around $4.99 or similar techniques designed to catch a consumer eye.

Essentially just because a store has labeled an item as a Black Friday special, this may not necessarily mean you’re getting the savings, or it could be a regular sale.

• Routine Promotions

Some companies are using the hype that is associated with the “Black Friday” moniker to promote regular sales. What these companies are doing is using Black Friday as an excuse to boost visibility and tout a sale they were giving anyway, it just so happens that the day after Thanksgiving falls within the time frame they are offering the special.

Jason Cochran on Wallet Pop provides the example of International Hotels Group. The hospitality company launched a promotional deal toting it as a Black Friday special but is it really a Black Friday deal? Cochran states “rather than being good for hotel stays on Black Friday weekend, as you might expect, or only being sold during Back Friday weekend, the deal is for sale starting November 1 and is good all the way until the end of April.”

That being the case, is there really a point in consumers rushing out to buy? It seems some merchants are simply trying to ride the tail feathers of Black Friday in order to nab consumers who are hyped and ready to buy.

• Moving Old Merchandise

Some merchants might throw up all the merchandise that did not sell the rest of the year and label it as a special in order to move the products out of their inventory. Realistically these things would probably be sitting on the clearance rack otherwise, perhaps even at a more discounted price.

When looking at products, be sure the deals are not older models of gadgets, electronics or even outdated fashions. Instead of throwing these items on clearance, some merchants may be trying to promote these items as specially priced current models. Chances are if you look hard enough, you could find a more current version of the item at a true Black Friday price elsewhere.

• Sell for Normal Price

Another tactic some retailers may try is to sell items at their regular price. What some merchants may do is in the time period leading up to Black Friday, they inflate the regular price, than as the big shopping day arrives, they slash the price back down to its regular price, or perhaps at a slight savings of the original price.

Black Friday has, in some instances, emerged as a national holiday in the U.S., and takes away from Thanksgiving. In 2010 many merchants were observed putting up holiday decorations far earlier than normal, local radio stations seem to be kicking off their holiday music playlists a week or two earlier this year and several major retailers are even open on Thanksgiving touting specially priced items.  All of this is designed by marketers to set consumers in the mood to spend and entice them into the stores.

Bottom line is, if you truly want to save money on Black Friday, do your homework before hand using the Internet. Comparison check with competitors. While a good many deals may be legit and save you some money, it does not mean other merchants are not offering similar competitive regular deals; many of which probably do not even need to be bought on Black Friday.

Has Black Friday really become Black November? Perhaps, and maybe the day is not even really all that special in terms of deals anymore depending upon how you look at it.

Consumers might be wise to research Black Friday deals, do their pricing and focus their efforts for Black Friday by finding the real savings.