The Best Deals Are Not Found On Black Friday

Stores offer the steepest discounts the day before Christmas, not on Black Friday. A Boston Globe study found that the orgy of mindless early-morning consumerism is good for cutesy door prizes and savings on one or two items, but provides no discount for the vast majority of surveyed goods.

Of 52 items the Globe tracked over the five-week holiday shopping season, only five items were cheapest on Black Friday. The vast majority of the products either stayed the same price or fluctuated above and below the Black Friday price from week to week. Seven items were actually cheaper the day before Christmas than on Black Friday.

“If you wait it out, you’ll often do better,” said Joseph Feldman of the New York retail consultancy Telsey Advisory Group.

The Globe tracked prices of items ranging from digital cameras to laptops by checking advertising circulars from stores such as Best Buy, Sears, and Circuit City each Sunday, starting the weekend before Black Friday. To be included in the survey, an item had to appear in the circulars for three of the five weekends before Christmas. Five of the items were cheapest on Black Friday, including a JVC 30GB hard drive camcorder at Best Buy that rose $70 by Dec. 2 to $399, before climbing another $100 the following Sunday. The last time the item was advertised was on Dec. 16 at $399.

The prices for 20 items stayed the same, including a Sony PlayStation 3 from Circuit City that held at $399. On 20 items, the price changed from week to week – meaning some weeks buyers paid more than the Black Friday price and some weeks they paid less.

And late sleepers and the last-minute procrastinators could beat the Black Friday prices on seven items. For example, Circuit City featured a $119.99 AIPTEK camcorder that includes an MP3 player, voice recorder, and webcam on Black Friday. By Dec. 16, it had dropped to $89.99 – a 25 percent savings. And Best Buy offered a Nikon Coolpix navy blue digital camera for $199.99 on Black Friday. It jumped to $229.99 and then $279.99 in the following weeks, only to fall back to $199.99 by Dec. 16. It wasn’t advertised on Dec. 23, the Sunday before Christmas.

As the starting gun for the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is meant to help stores, not shoppers. Procrastination can be an effective shopping strategy—we picked up a $65 Christmas tree for $10 on Christmas eve—but for the best savings, know exactly what you want and relentlessly chase your desired product across the marketplace. Compare prices on the internet, haggle with retailers, and watch for sudden price drops. Skip the cold, outdoor 2 a.m. lines.

For shopping early birds… [Boston Globe]
(Photo: The Searcher)


Edit Your Comment

  1. says:

    it’s economics…why would they offer a cheaper product when they KNOW people are going to be at the store regardless vs. offering a cheaper product when the number of people are expected to be lower?

    it’s like the day after christmas. stores KNOW people are going to be out spending xmas money, so why astronomically mark down things other than christmas stuff?

  2. sickofthis says: Because of competition. A retailer doesn’t get all that traffic all to itself. Circuit City has to compete with Best Buy for customers for digital cameras, etc.

  3. thetanooki says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I still think that I got a great deal on my Samsung 40″ 1080p LCD from Best Buy this year for $1100…

  4. bsankr says:

    “This year, JC Penney, Mervyns, and Kohl’s all opened at 4 a.m., and some merchants even welcomed customers on Thanksgiving, with CompUSA serving pumpkin pie to holiday shoppers angling for electronics deals.

    So THAT’S why they’re going out of business…gotta watch those frivolous expenses!

  5. headon says:

    @thetanooki: nope ya could have saved $117.00 at circuit city on Dec 24th. All good things come to those who wait. Be more patient next time.

  6. Televiper says:

    Which is why they attract people with door crashers, and door prizes instead of a wide spread regime of in store discounts. The stores are going to have the highest traffic levels of the year regardless of the sales. People still have to fill their gifts lists. But, as you get closer to Dec 24th you’re competing for the dollars of people who are undecided, and those that can be enticed to add one more gift to their shopping list.

    I have to say the best time to by luggage and Christmas decorations in Canada is boxing week. Just pick the stuff up dirt cheap and then pack it away in boxes to be used next year.

  7. Televiper says:

    Yah, but that’s a gamble as well.

  8. hn333 says:

    I saved a ton of money by not buying anything.

  9. Antediluvian says:

    @hn333: But, how can that be? “The more you spend the more you save,” right?
    I think you’re doing it wrong.

  10. says:

    @Televiper: exactly :D shop 350 days before christmas and you’re way ahead of the game!

  11. dapuddle says:

    Only problem is that those who mindlessly spend at these types of sales are likely not savvy enough to be here, reading this. They are probably watching Oprah or something else on that artifact know as television, the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.

  12. scampy says:

    Im done giving to charity. I have probably given thousands to charity since I started working but the few times I was down on my luck there was nobody there to help me with handouts. Every time I was told because I have a job they couldnt help me so screw charities

  13. scampy says:

    Please disregard my above comment. It was meant for a different thread

  14. Hawk07 says:

    A PS3 is a bad product to chose to see if the price raises or falls. The console manufacturers have strict rules in place so that there’s little to no competition between the retailers. That’s why all the retailers simultaneously drop the price when corporate says so. Also, the retailers make very little money on every console sold, so there’s really not much working room even if they did want to lower the price.

  15. timmus says:

    @scampy: No problem… just substitute “Black Friday sales” for “charities”.

  16. says:

    @hn333: LOL yeah that works too.

    i’m not saying you’re not going to get a deal back friday, you’re just not going to get the best deal for the season

  17. humphrmi says:

    I used to do black friday for one thing and one thing only – toys for my kids and nieces and nephews. Toy stores used to have wide-ranging discounts available first thing in the morning on Black Friday – not just a few items, but nearly everything. However, over time my shopping expanded into electronics, computers, etc. I mean, what the hell, I’m up, they’re open, why not, right?

    Pretty soon I had dropped the toy stores because the discounts weren’t there anymore. And this year I had to ask myself why in the hell I’m getting up at 4:15 AM on a work holiday for this. I stayed in bed and got a fairly decent deal on a TV I wanted online at Amazon later that day.

    I’m done with Black Friday. Next year I plan to giggle to myself when I’m driving home from Thanksgiving dinner and see the hoards already lined up in front of Best Buy. Have fun, guys… I’ll get a better deal tomorrow!

  18. madanthony says:

    Black Friday is a victim of it’s own success. A few years ago, you could roll up to almost any store an hour before opening and get pretty much whatever you wanted, including some crazy cheap and free-after-rebate stuff. Now days, so many people come that the stores have found they can have lamer sales and people still come, and to get anything good you have to wait 12 hours.

    For the first time in years I stayed home this black friday, and instead got some great deals online, including some logitech stuff from that they paid me to buy after rebate.

  19. Bruce says:

    I saved thousands on Black Friday. I further saved even more during the before and after Christmas sales. It was amazing.

    I expect to save even more on the New Years day scams ^H^H^H^H^H sales too!

    How did I do it? I didn’t buy a fuggin thing.

    Black Friday – In the middle of the night, all the sheeple, shivering and knees clinking,

    They must outspend their neighbor,
    buying stuff made with Chinese slave labor!

    What were they thinking?

    The Visa bill, oh how you dread, because you bought all that Chinese lead!

    This summer, back to the mall, thanks to the recall you won’t get dumber.

    Once more into the breach! That Chinese lead will surely leach!

  20. katieoh says:

    @Antediluvian: my new favorite mantra: things are 100 percent off if you don’t buy them.

  21. ARP says:

    I think holiday purchasing quite a bit in the next few years. With the rise of gift cards and retailer goals to push holiday creep, the holiday shopping season will start in October and end mid-January. Combine that with the fact more people aren’t buying unless its on sale (and really on sale- not marked up and then discounted). Retailers are sensing this and putting stuff on sale before the holidays but also not discounting as heavily after x-mas until February before inventory. So, you’ll have a longer season, with more sales, but the discounts won’t be as deep.

  22. thetanooki says:


    I would happily pay an extra $100 to avoid Circuit City…

  23. Electroqueen says:

    If I have to wait for a 2GB SD’s price from Sandisk to go down, I’ll have to wait probably another YEAR or TWO. Somethings are cheaper later on, like DVDs or video games, but I can’t wait for the price per GB to go down!
    At least I got mine for $15 at Staples.