10 Black Friday Secrets Stores Don't Want You To Know

Black Friday is coming. That’s the day after Thanksgiving when retailers start their Christmas shopping price drops. The basic idea is to whip consumers into a buying frenzy with a few deals and specials and limited inventories, and use the ensuing madness to also offload crappy products they couldn’t otherwise move. You can come out with a deal, but you gotta know the tricks. Mike Elgin has got 10 of them, we like:

2: Many Black Friday deals are bait-and-switch scams. They may sell you a very cheap product with a very expensive warranty, or use a given price, but add software, accessories or other over-priced add-ons as a required but unadvertised part of the purchase. You’ll find out about this only at the register. If the price at the register is significantly higher than advertised for any reason, ask to speak to a supervisor and insist on the advertised price. If they still refuse, threaten to write a letter to the attorney general.

“Black Friday is a zero-sum game,” writes Mike. “Either the store wins, or you do.”

10 Black Friday Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You To Know [Datamation]


Edit Your Comment

  1. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    He forgot #11: Bring riot gear.

  2. 6BilBeauties says:

    Meijer has their black Friday weekend ads posted on their website.

  3. leftistcoast says:

    How about just not shopping that day. I mean, really, is any discount or sale worth the hassle of dealing with the hordes of zombie-like shoppers? Spend the day eating turkey sandwiches and sussing out what you really need for the holidays (if anything)…

  4. jeblis says:

    How about staying home and not buying crap you don’t need anyway?

  5. foghat81 says:

    @jeblis: Because sometimes that crap is things other people need. And that puts money in my pocket…..which I need :)

    disclaimer: I’m not a hardcore black friday shopper or hardcore reseller. It’s getting to the point, though, where my time is worth more to me.

  6. humphrmi says:

    If you must buy gifts (i.e. in my case a dozen or so nieces / nephews) then at one time in the past, Black Friday often offered great deals that you couldn’t get later. I used to get up waaaay too early to get to KB Toys at 5:00 AM, and I could count on saving about $250-300. That is worth losing a few hours of sleep.

    That said, last year’s Black Friday was a HUGE disappointment and I don’t think I’m going again.

  7. full.tang.halo says:

    #12 See earlier post on what your time is worth….seriously people

  8. MeOhMy says:

    I’d rather just start shopping earlier in the year even if it costs a little more. I rarely go out on black friday and if I do I go around dinner time when the crowds have thinned.

    It’s just not worth the aggravation. Maybe if I was going to get a big ticket item for a big discount, but….I’m not.

  9. Antediluvian says:

    The points from the above commenters are important — use the Black Friday prices and put the effort into the shopping expedition ONLY IF the items you’re buying are ones you would normally buy anyway. If that’s true, then you save. If it’s not true, then you lose.

    I like to make a list of items from different stores and compare and contrast, noting opening times and locations, to make the best of my most limited resource, time.

  10. That70sHeidi says:

    Signing up for mailing lists for stores you like often gets you special deals, discounts or free shipping, on things you’d be buying in the store anyway. I can’t stand regular shopping when there’s so much more variety, speed and better pricing online. And hell, they’ll wrap it and ship it directly to the person as well! Every day can be Black Friday if you know where to surf.

  11. hellinmyeyes says:

    I agree with the loser products one (no. 6). I always read the ads and think to myself, Who really wants that $25 no-name DVD player that will be dead in two months anyway? (Remember, you usually DO get what you pay for. I haven’t been impressed by anything in a Black Friday ad in years except the super-cheap Seagate hard drives I bought last year. Looking over the ads so far this year, I probably will stay home and avoid the riots and mayhem. I guess it all depends on what they’re offering. Go in, get what you want/need, and get out.

  12. That70sHeidi says:

    To clarify, I meant email mailing lists, for online stores.

  13. Canadian Impostor says:

    Stores aren’t lowering prices because they’re nice. Everything on sale on Black Friday is junk they need to get rid of.

  14. etinterrapax says:

    No saving would be worth dealing with the animals people become when shopping on Black Friday. I stay home, use mail order, retain sanity.

  15. everclear75 says:

    It seems the Black Friday deals are either hit or miss.
    Last Year, there wasn’t anything special. The year before that, that was different. I braved a horde of peoples in 60 degree weather to obtain a laptop from Circuit City. The 200 dollar variety. As a matter of fact, I typing this comment on said laptop.

  16. ElizabethD says:

    Or you can celebrate Buy Nothing Day.

    I love staying home on Black Friday and having leftover-turkey sandwiches for lunch. Wait until the week before Christmas for even better bargains.

  17. othium says:

    I plan on doing my shopping after X-Mas this year due to not being able to get the time off from work to attend any family gatherings. Since I am not going to be there on the day of celebration, I plan on taking advantage of any good sales held AFTER the wacky season.

    Much less stress not having to worry about the whole “Black Friday” thing. It has been fun in the past, but I have gotten over it.

    Good tips in this article though. If I were going to gear-up for it this year, this sounds like good advice.

  18. shawnj says:

    That article could have been written to be just as informative without the negative slant.

  19. liquisoft says:

    I hate humanity during the holiday season. Hence, no black friday for me.

  20. saltmine says:

    @everclear75: 60 degree weather! My goodness! :)

  21. swunder says:


    Amen. You couldn’t PAY me to shop on Black Friday.

  22. hubris says:

    Dear god, why can’t people just not buy more and more crap? I asked that no one give me anything this year (that was vetoed, so I asked for three things, all less than $50); I’m so sick of the commercial frenzy that this holiday has become. Not that I’m religious, but can’t it be about spending time with your family rather than demanding presents? My god.

    I was coming home from Thanksgiving last year, and it was pretty late, and there was literally no one on the highway. Until we reached the exit that let off near our local outlet. Cars were backed up for MILES waiting to get to the stores. It was so depressing that people would spend that much time just to save a few dollars.

  23. Twitch says:

    I, for one, plan to spend my day placing sings outside our local walmarts that say:

    “Thank you for buying our cheap, Chinese crap. Please come again”.

  24. jpp123 says:

    “Black Friday is a zero-sum game,” – the only real way to win is not to play the game.

  25. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Twitch: “….Please come again. If you’re not poisioned by then.”

  26. elf6c says:

    Turns out gift cards are the same price every day.

    Who knew?

  27. GitEmSteveDave says:

    I love the Christmas holiday, but like most things, It’s become so watered down. That’s why I laugh when people complain it’s a religious holiday. I’m one of those people who like watching people unwrap presents, and just bask in the happiness that floods the room.

    That being said, I try to get things done early, when I can. I hate doing gift cards, but sometimes it’s the best, especially when I can not think of what to get someone. That way it’s whatever the person wants it to be, either now, or in the future. And wine always makes a great gift. Even people who don’t drink can always cook with it.

    I do go for the after Christmas rush on stuff. That’s when you get some great deals on everything.

  28. GitEmSteveDave says:


    Thank you Joshua.

    How about a nice game of chess?

  29. RandomHookup says:

    @everclear75: Yeah, that 60 degree weather can be pretty tough.

    I just tell everyone I observe the Puerto Rican tradition of giving gifts on Three Kings Day in January and then wait till the after Xmas sales.

  30. Twitch says:


    Well, I can only get the job done if the signs come from Shanghai in time… So let’s remain hopeful.

  31. cosby says:

    After working multiple black fridays in retail I know better to try to shop on one of them. Just not worth being pushed around in a store that is so packed you really can’t move around. To me the 100 bucks I might save is not worth the trouble. That article wasn’t that well written either. Seemed to negitive.

  32. www.rulaglass.com says:

    Black Friday is an effective way for retail corporations to increase revenue, though what does this say about the prices of said goods from January-October? Is this a way to closeout goods that retailers bought too much of? (I may have answered this myself) :(

  33. TPK says:

    I like the “write the AG” suggestion. Definitely something to keep in mind. In fact, why not go to [www.creditinfocenter.com] ahead of time and print up little papers with your own state’s AG contact info. If they won’t honor their price, start handing out the info to other customers too! Similar to protesting in front of a store that ripped you off!

  34. quail says:

    Black Friday is such a rip off. Clothing sales are cyclical and you can get great deals by buying before/during the seasonal switch over. Those racks and racks of junkie gizmos can be picked up cheap at discounters like Big Lots and TJ Max and Tuesday Morning. Look at electronics every 6 months for the older models to be discounted as the new come into the store. Just keep a running list in your head who you have to buy for and throughout the year pick up things when they’re inexpensive and put them away. AND STAY WITHIN YOUR BUDGET! simple.

  35. nemesiscw says:

    Haha I think I’m the only one who actually likes the experience of Black Friday. The whole shopping with tons of other people. Also waking up at the crack of dawn even though I usually sleep in until noon-2ish.

  36. Trackback says:

    Photo of a refurbbed and reopened Avignone via Femia, 11/10/2007 Local · LES shop Edith Machinist smells like “an old closet” [Fops and Dandies] National · A clothing line made entirely of re-cut items from Goodwill [PSFK] · Black Friday “secrets” [Datamation via] · Viktor &…

  37. XTC46 says:

    I LOVE black Friday… well I used to. For the last 2 years I was a commission based sales person for a big electronics store. Two years ago I made more sales in a single day (I worked 24 hours straight) than I did the entire month combined. This year, they changed our pay because we made too much with commission :(

    Thank you all you gadget hungry people.

  38. bossco says:

    Only in America would we have to have a cheat sheet to shop.

  39. legerdemain says:

    You may also be able to get the items in the circular the Wednesday night before the sale. Ask the manager for the special price. If they decline, you can bring your receipt back to the store Friday for a price adjustment, netting you a guaranteed in-stock item at the sale price without fighting other shoppers.

  40. MBZ321 says:

    Black Friday nowadays is a joke. Prices are really not that much different than they are during any other weekly sales. Stuff that is on sale is either low end (ex. $300 laptops), low quality, no name, and usually a combination of the three.
    That being said, I’ll probably only venture out to Staples to buy a hard drive and more memory because the prices are usually better on those things, but i’m not rushing in to kmart or whereever for a $9.99 dvd player after a zillion rebates.

  41. drjayphd says:

    “Have one team member in each store when it opens, each with a list of what everyone wants to buy. Use Joopz.com to set up broadcast SMS. Each team member finds every product on the list, then broadcasts pricing. The person at the store with the lowest price for each item buys it.”

    Teams, huh? Who can find the most things wrong with this tip? I’ll start: first person to get thrown out for using your cameraphone (or looking like you might possibly think about using it at some point in the near or far future) wins a cookie.

  42. mgarcia20 says:

    gee, nothing says ring in the holidays more than pummeling someone’s mom to the ground to get the newest dumbass toy that your kid will be bored with a few hours after they open it…

  43. azntg says:

    This is probably the first time in five years that I will not be participating in Black Friday sales and actually be getting some long deprieved sleep.

    To me, I think I’ve more or less reached critical mass, where the amount of stuff my apartment will hold has matched up with all the things I wanted to have anyway. It also seems like the BF deals overall are getting worse by the year. Also, Black Friday shopping… it’s just not the same anymore. Even just five years ago, it wasn’t the super unbelievably crowded event where everyone plus their sister and their cousin came, at least in my neighborhood anyway.

  44. Sidecutter says:

    #11: Pick the item you REALLY WANT instead of being a blitz buyer. When the store opens, get in the doors. Don’t worry about where you were in line, it won’t likely matter. Just make your way inside and BYPASS THE MESS OF PEOPLE GETTING CARTS. Now that you’re in, cart free, and can maneuver around abd between them all, you will quickly be able to reach whatever it is you wanted before most of them do, and odds are, you will get it. Remember, without a cart, you can slip between carts and get through gaps they leave trying to get past each other. And you don’t even have to be rude or unpleasant to beat them to the item.

  45. Shmonkmonk says:

    I know that certain stores are known for their Black Friday sales (Wal-Mart, BBY, etc.) but don’t bother with any stores in the mall. I’ve worked at various national chains (all found inside, or around, your local mall) and the Black Friday sales aren’t any better than the sale that could be gotten on any random weekend during the holiday time. In some cases, better deals could be gotten closer towards Christmas.
    Oh, and Black Friday is a myth. Every retailer knows that the busiest sale day is the Sat. before Christmas and that’s the day that the really awesome sale comes out (though- it’s kind of slim picking). Black Friday gets all the publicity but the Sat. before Christmas is true insanity.

  46. dirtymoney says:

    I just dont participate in black friday….. just WAY too much of a hassle. Too many shoppers chasing to few REAL deals.

    Just isnt worth it.

  47. Vicky says:

    I never think “Black Friday” is such a bad time to shop. It seems like the only time of the year when Super Target actually has all its checkout lanes open, instead of the typical 4 open and 28 closed. Sure, the store is more crowded than usual, but it’s not eight times as crowded – as long as you know what you want and where it is you’re probably going to get out pretty fast. YMMV.

  48. scoopy says:

    Like outlet shopping, Black Friday’s are a thing of the past.