Your 2017 Black Friday Guide

A sign promoting Black Friday specials is displayed in the window of a J.C. Penny store as shoppers queue up at the door for a 3 p.m. opening, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in northeast Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A sign promoting Black Friday specials is displayed in the window of a J.C. Penny store as shoppers queue up at the door for a 3 p.m. opening, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, in northeast Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)If scoring some Black Friday deals is on your holiday shopping to-do list, it helps to have a plan of attack. Some stores start their sales early, opening to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day while others are stepping back from that trend and sticking with the traditional “doorbuster” deals starting in the early hours of Black Friday.

So, what’s a shopper’s best plan of attack? We’ve compiled the information below to help you navigate the pre-winter wonderland of bargains.

 

 

 


CHECK OUT THE CIRCULARS — NOW


What once was only available inside newspapers is now viewable online, and early. Many of the 2016 Black Friday advertisements for the major retailers have been leaked or released. Here are some links to the Black Friday sections on major retailers’ websites.

WalletHub found that these ten stores offer the deepest discounts on Black Friday

  • Kohl’s (66.3% average discount)
  • JC Penney (66.3% average discount)
  • Belk (62.8% average discount)
  • Stage (60.8% average discount)
  • Shopko (55.9% average discount)
  • Sears (50.1% average discount)
  • Macy’s (45.6% average discount)
  • Amazon (36.8% average discount)
  • Target (36.2% average discount)
  • Kmart (35.8% average discount)
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods (35.1% average discount)
  • Office Depot and OfficeMax (34.5% average discount)
  • Wal-Mart (34.2% average discount)
  • Dollar General (33.5% average discount)
  • Lowe’s (33.0% average discount)
  • Staples (32.3% average discount)
  • BJ’s (32.1% average discount)

See the complete WalletHub 2017 Black Friday ad survey here.


WAIT FOR CYBER MONDAY?


• Sign up for emails: Stores will remind subscribers what big deals days are coming.
• Download the store apps: If the store you plan to buy from has an app, it will likely send a push alert about deals — notifications to your phone that encourage you to swipe and open the app to make a purchase.

GALLERY: Cyber Monday Shopping Tips


HOW TO GET THE BEST DEALS


Consumers should be wary of offers that look too good to be true. You should also keep in mind that in certain categories, such as winter clothing, next month will surely usher in more substantial discounts.

The following are 10 Black Friday shopping tips from Consumer Reports to help you snag the best deal on the items you want, and help keep frustration—and overspending—to a minimum.

1. Start early: Check out the specials being offered in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. Watching these early deals will help you judge how good the actual Black Friday sales really are once it’s crunch time.

2. Do your homework: Study the ads—in print and online—the weekend before Thanksgiving. You’ll find tons of leaked ad scans on Black Friday-focused websites such as bfads.net, bestblackfriday.com, gottadeal.com, and theblackfriday.com. Some of these let you filter your searches by product category.

credit-card-reader3. Compare prices: If you spot a great deal at one retailer, check out some of the comparison sites, which include FatWallet, PriceGrabber.com, PriceWatch.com, Shopping.com, and ShopZilla to make sure you can’t do better elsewhere.There are also a growing number of apps, such as ShopSavvy and BuyVia, that let you scan bar codes to compare prices, get discounts, and score coupons from local retailers. (See tip No. 6, below, for additional shopping apps.)

4. Be loyal: Stores often have loyalty programs that offer sales and promotions to their members first, then let them earn rewards on what they buy. Sign up for Black Friday shopping alerts about upcoming promotions, coupons, and discounts.

5. Get social: The Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite retailers are a great way to find out about deals and promotions. Those retailers will often reward customers who “like” them or follow them with special alerts to Black Friday discounts and incentives. And, of course, texts, tweets, and social media posts are an easy way to share Black Friday shopping intel with your friends.

6. Phone it in: Before you head out to the store, make sure your smartphone is fully charged and loaded with a few of the comparison-shopping apps mentioned above, or ShopKick, SlickDeals, Shopula, and RetailMeNot. In addition to providing pricing info, they can often be used to place orders or monitor items via a personal watch list.

7. Create a budget—and stick to it: Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend on your Black Friday shopping spree, and do your best to resist impulse buying, especially if you’re not sure how good a specific deal is. If you find that you’re too free with your charge cards, try buying with cash this year and see whether you have better self-control. But if you are sufficiently disciplined, buy with a credit card that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty and then pay it off before any interest accrues.

8. Check all store policies in advance: It’s always good to know a store’s price-match and return policies.

Some credit cards offer price protection that reimburses customers the difference of an item that goes on sale within a couple months of purchase. In other words, you can buy an item at full price now, but still get the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale price.But as with most offers, it’s important to read the fine print before you buy.

Here’s a look at some of the cards that will pay you back:

Citi: Citi’s Price Rewind program offers a refund of up to $500 per item, up to $2,500 a year.

The company said the program still applies to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, including advertised doorbusters.

How it works: Customers register their purchased item online and save their receipts. The company tracks the item for 60 days by searching more than 500 online sites. If the price drops, the customer can request a refund for the price difference.

Citi claims that the program, on average, found a lower price on 40% of registered products, and has given out more than $5.5 million in refunds to cardholders during the first nine months of 2016.

Chase: There is no limit to the number of price protection claims a Chase cardholder can file, but there is a maximum payout of $2,500 in a 12-month period. Shoppers can be reimbursed up to $500 an item.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales aren’t excluded from price protection, according to the company, but there are some exceptions. For instance, a deal that is promoted as “limited quantity” or a “doorbuster” would be limited to a refund of $50 per item, up to $150 a year.

How it works: To get a price reimbursement, cardholders need to submit the following: a claim form, the original receipt with the purchase, the applicable credit card statement and the advertisement showing the item at a lower price. They can either mail in the items or submit them online.

MasterCard: MasterCard also offers a price protection benefit that will reimburse cardholders for a maximum price difference of $250 per claim, and allows four claims a year.

When it comes to Black Friday deals, the perk can vary based on the card and issuing bank, the company said. For instance, if a product is advertised as “limited quantity,” it might not qualify for a refund. The company recommends shoppers call customer service with any claim questions.

How it works: To submit a claim, customers must mail in a claim form, along with the advertisement of the lower price, applicable credit card statement and the original receipt with the item.

Discover: Shoppers who purchase an item using a Discover card and later find a lower price can submit a claim within 90 days of the original purchase.

Discover’s price protection offers a refund for a price difference up to $500, with an annual limit of $2,500.

The company said most Black Friday sales are eligible.

How it works: Customers should call Discover’s customer service to file a claim and then submit the following items online or via mail: claim form, credit card statement with the purchase, sales receipt and a copy of the ad offering the lower price.

9. Avoid pricey accessories: You’ve just scored an awesome giant-screen 4K TV at an all-time low price, so don’t blow your savings by splurging on pricey accessories or extended warranties. This is where retailers make their money. Hence the hard sell. If you know you’ll need an HDMI cable, buy it in advance from an online retailer such as monoprice.com or bluejeanscable.com.

10. The cheapest TVs aren’t always the best deals: Doorbuster specials draw people in with visions of savings, but they might not offer the best product for their needs. This is especially true for big-ticket items such as TVs. Just remember that you’ll probably be watching that TV for a number of years; if you’re not happy with its features or picture quality, you’ll wind up spending that time regretting that spending even an extra $100 could have gotten you a set you’d be happier with.


WHAT TO AVOID


legosShopping experts say avoid buying toys over Black Friday week. “We do see some good deals, but they are rare,” Benjamin Glaser, an editor at DealNews told NBC News. “Unfortunately, there’s never really a good time to buy the season’s hottest toys (like merchandise from Star Wars, Frozen, or PAW Patrol). But you might have better luck in the second week of December, when we see the best toy deals.”

Shoppers should be wary of retailers slashing prices on their own brands.

“Stores like Kohl’s, Kmart, Sears, Walmart, and Macy’s all have their own store brands and they can set the retail price on these items to whatever they want,” said Kristin Cook, senior editor at Ben’s Bargains. “So while 80 percent off sounds amazing, chances are high that the item was never actually sold for the listed retail price and so this may not actually be all that great of a price.”

Also, be leery of BOGO deals. They’re somewhat designed to trick you into spending money you don’t want to spend, all for the glory of a “free” item.

“If you come across ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ deals and only planned on buying one of the items to begin with, don’t opt to buy a second item in order to receive the third,” said Kerry Sherin, savings expert at Offers.com. “You just doubled your budget by doing this. Don’t spend just to save, [as in spending] $100 on stuff just to get $20 off.”


HOLIDAY RETAIL FACTS


• Consumers will spend an average of $655.8 billion in November and December
• Holiday sales in 2015 increased 3.2 percent over the previous year
• Retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season
• Generation X shoppers are the most likely group to spend more than planned.
Source: National Retail Federation

What you need to know for Black Friday

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