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Black Friday: It's Time to Start Prepping
Believe it or not, November 27th (a.k.a. Black Friday) will be here before you know it. Retailers are already gearing up for the big day, with many predicted to test the waters a little earlier than usual this year.
"Usually every year, we have these faux Black Friday sales where retailers basically try to capitalize on the momentum without actually matching what you'd see on the weekend of Black Friday," says Matt Granite, a consumer reporter and YouTube Deal Guy. "But this year, sales are not where stores want them to be, so they're going to be cranking out deals this year at the exact same prices as Black Friday, on many occasions prior to the big event."
In other words, retailers are already starting to test the market with different price points. Case in point: in mid-September, Premier Hot Deals majorly slashed prices on Beats By Dre Mixr Headphones. Right now, they're selling for just $129 with free shipping when you buy two or more. (Best Buy has them for $187.99.)
"That's a deal that's already on store shelves right now, which is a very, very odd thing to see," says Granite, adding that retailers like Checkout.org and Meh.com are also expected to replicate their digital doorbusters at incredibly early dates.
Ready to dominate Black Friday this year? Here are more insider tips to get you on the right track.
Electronics Are Where It's At
Generally speaking, this monumental sales event is best-known for electronics. Expect to see jaw-dropping sales on televisions, laptops, tablets and more. Granite says that a lot of people are under the misconception that waiting until Cyber Monday will snag them the best deals on electronics; not so.
"There is no better time of the year to get a big-screen TV, ever — there just is not," he says.
Where TVs are concerned, Granite adds that we'll likely see more than just the expected off-brands. "We're going to see other players in the Black Friday TV game, from LG to Samsung." He says that 40-inch 1080p LED TVs, for example, will have price tags around $250. For comparison, this 2012 Samsung model is currently selling on Amazon for $427.99.
Last year, Slickdealers were buzzing about a 65-inch Vizio LED Smart HDTV that was retailing at Walmart for just $648. Word to the wise: this was part of a Walmart guarantee to be in stock for one hour only. As some users pointed out, dealing with the checkout lines can be a bit of a hassle. It goes without saying that getting there early this year should be part of your strategy.
If you're in the market for a new tablet, you're in store for some killer deals. With the announcement of the new $49 Amazon Fire tablet, competitors are scrambling to keep up.
"You're going to see some really desperate moves," Granite says. "For retailers who can't lower prices lower than Amazon, they're going to start throwing in a lot of peripherals; so we're going to see free cases, free keyboards, free extended warrantees and more."
Electronics aside, large appliances are another hot Black Friday category. Last year, Consumer Reports cited items like refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines all deeply discounted across Home Depot, Lowe's and Sears. This included GE microwaves marked down from $400 to just $250, and electric dryers slashed from $1,500 to $1,000.
For this year, Granite says that a site called Premier Gourmet is expected to beat all of Amazon's pricing on select kitchen items by at least 20 to 30 percent, which is pretty much unheard of.
He adds that retailers will also be eager to dump any merchandise they were unable to sell during the back-to-school season. This translates to 20 to 30 percent markdowns.
Hold Off Until Cyber Monday for Select Items
In general, Granite says to steer clear of buying apparel — unless there's a storewide sale going on. Snagging clothing on Cyber Monday will likely be more worth your while.
"A lot of the major distributors, like Old Navy and Banana Republic, count on the fact that they have such a strong velocity of people shopping during their lunch breaks on Cyber Monday," says Granite. "So anything that's 30 percent off Black Friday storewide will be 40 percent off Cyber Monday."
Another interesting note is that while electronics are indeed hot-ticket items, deals on computer add-ons may actually not be as sweet on Black Friday. "If you look at the data, laptop deals are better on Black Friday overall, but the upgrade options are better on Cyber Monday," says Granite. This means that you'll get better deals on computer-specific add-ons like RAM, for instance, on Cyber Monday.
In addition, Granite says that Black Friday is actually the worst time of year to snag storewide savings. "No store is offering the best in more than one category; otherwise, they'd lose money." Instead, plan to jump from store to store to land the best prices on select items.
Start Watching Out for Black Friday Ads
How do you know which retailers will have the best deals? Scouting Black Friday ads should bring it all into focus. Last year, the ads started hitting the public in early November, with the bulk of major retailers starting promotions in the middle of the month. Overall, they peaked around November 21st. In addition to scouring the ads, Granite advises subscribing to mailing lists.
"A lot of stores are going to be reserving their exclusives for people on the mailing lists about 10 days prior to Black Friday itself; and those deals are going to be a lot better than anything you actually see on Black Friday," he says.
With about two more months to go until the big day, now is the time to get on these mailing lists. (I regularly save big time for my kids because I'm on the mailing lists for Children's Place and Famous Footwear.)
Now is also the time to start thinking about the items you'd love to get your hands on. From there, sign up for Black Friday Alerts to stay up to date on the latest and greatest deals. And if you come across a seemingly awesome deal on your own, don't forget to run it through our Price Tracker.
Image courtesy of ©iStock.com/CactuSoup, Amazon.com
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