5 Things You Should Know About Black Friday

As we mentioned earlier this week, some people have already begun camping out to get in line for this year’s Black Friday sales. But are these people going to actually see any big savings or have they just given in to the annual hype machine surrounding the super shopping day?

Over at SmartMoney, they put together a list of things retailers won’t tell you about Black Friday. Here are some highlights:

Black Friday came early
Many retailers have been offering deep discounts for weeks on consumer electronics and other products that are usually the core targets of Black Friday shoppers.
“While the prices offered on Black Friday could be lower, they’ll avoid the long lines and crowds and the possibility of not finding what they want,” writes SmartMoney.

You should have stayed home
Even if you only wait in line for a couple hours before the doors open on Black Friday, supplies are usually very limited on the most discounted items. So all that time and effort spent standing or camping in the cold could have been spent in the comfort of one’s home looking for the product online. And some stores, including Toys R Us, are making their Black Friday offerings available to web shoppers.

Beyond that, the whole point of the Black Friday deep discounts is to lure buyers into stores in the hope that they impulsively snatch up other items on which the retailer will make a profit. So while the online discount on that TV you want might not be as huge as the in-store Black Friday savings, you might end up spending less money in the end.

Surprise gift? Higher car insurance bills
Everyone knows about the scrambling and scrapping that goes on inside stores on Black Friday, but what about the roads and parking lots full of sleepy, possibly agitated drivers? Not to mention the fact that many retailers are opening up only a few hours after people finish their Thanksgiving meals, which could include wine, cocktails or beer.

“You’re trying to save yourself money by going to the mall early, but you could actually cost yourself more,” says Loretta Worters, vice president at the Insurance Information Institute.

Don’t expect good quality
Sometimes, you do get what you pay for. Many items, especially for electronics, on which the prices have been slashed to bits are generally not the most desirable, high-end products. You might think you’re getting a great deal on that $200 laptop, but will it do the things you (or its ultimate recipient) need it to do? Since a number of retailers have already “leaked” their Black Friday offerings, you have plenty of time to do this research ahead of time so that you don’t end up buying a discount dud.

Don’t be fooled by credit card discounts offers
There is a reason retailers will give you 20% off your first purchase if you sign up for a store credit card — those cards carry interest rates at least 8% higher than your average credit card. Additionally, the cards offer low limits. Which means that if you put a $700 TV on a card with a $900 limit, you’re using a huge chunk of your available credit, which could possibly lower your credit score.

10 Things Black Friday Won’t Tell You [SmartMoney.com]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.