Do Black Friday deals really save you money? Tips to shop smart

Thanksgiving has become more than just a day of thanks, turkey, and pumpkin pie. Thousands are also planning to head to the malls.

But are you really getting a great deal, or just falling for the shopping hype?

One Best Buy customer says he and his friends have been camping outside the store since Monday.

Kapono Kanoho had a great setup with a tent, chairs, and refreshments. They’ve been taking turns watching the front of the line. He says Best Buy’s Black Friday deals on technology make the wait worth it.

“There’s a 50-inch 4K television for $199 which is a pretty good deal, so that’s one that everyone seems to have their eyes on,” he told KHON2. “You can probably find other deals like that online already, but I think the combination of being able to hang out with your friends, have a good time kind of experience, this whole thing plus get something good at the end of it is kind of a good thing.”

At Walmart on Keeaumoku Street, the Black Friday deals are bound in shrink wrap, like a gift, not to be opened until Thursday.

“We’ve really taken the planning of our Black Friday sale very seriously,” said Walmart store manager Debbie Shima. “We actually start planning months in advance.”

For Walmart and many retailers nowadays, their Black Friday sale actually starts on Thursday. Walmart’s in-store sales kick off at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

“We have a lot of electronics, specifically TVs, a few 4K offerings, large-ticket items for some very hot prices, hundreds of dollars off the normal retail,” Shima said.

Big savings are a promise many retailers are offering, but as Nathan Hartmann, assistant marketing professor at UH Manoa’s Shidler College of Business, tells us, don’t take their word for it.

“One of the things consumers do want to be cautious about is just assuming deals can be a good deal,” he said. “A lot of people want to have this day where you just go out and you go shopping and it makes your decision easy. People really lose sight of rationality when so much hype and emotion is involved.”

Hartmann tells us there are a few ways retailers can pressure us to spend. One way is time constraints, like doorbuster deals or discounts only available on Black Friday.

“Definitely do not give into the hype,” he said. “I think that’s one of the worst things, because you get emotions going, hormones going, and it makes it a lot more challenging to pass up on deals that are probably not that great in the first place.”

Another way Hartmann says retailers can slyly get you to buy is purchase constraints.

“What catches consumers off-guard is putting a maximum number of units they can purchase,” he explained. “Say you go into Costco. They say a maximum of 10 wine bottles and so consumers instantly assume they’re getting a good deal and they purchase more than they otherwise would.”

Hartmann says shoppers can keep themselves from falling into one of the marketing traps by doing their homework first. Compare ads before heading to the store. Check online too. Discounts may be greater and save you travel time.

If you miss a Black Friday deal or simply can’t find a good one, don’t worry. Better deals may be ahead.

“Consumers should really adopt a long-term focus and understand that although there’s a lot of great sales on Black Friday, you oftentimes can find similar or better deals at a different points of the year,” Hartmann said.

What if you’re standing in line and the product you want sells out?

According to the state Office of Consumer Protection, while many businesses provide rain checks, Hawaii does not have a rain check law like other states do. But there are laws that protect consumers from bait-and-switch scams.

“You can’t mislead consumers into thinking they they are going to be running down there and getting what the ad indicates what’s for sale unless you clarify in the ad, so people will know up front if there are limited quantities. The merchant should be as specific as possible,” said Stephen Levins.

Levins adds that customers should pay attention to the wording in advertisements, and if you fall victim to an advertising scam, you can file a complaint with the office here.

Going after discounts is all about saving money, so how can you avoid overspending on Black Friday?

Hartmann says the best way to do that is to set a budget and stick with it. Write out who you’re buying for and how much you want to spend on each person. If it doesn’t fit the budget, don’t buy it.

What’s his opinion on the best thing to buy on Black Friday? TVs.

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