Is Black Friday Really the Best Deal?

We’re pretty well conditioned in our society to assume that the best time to get a good deal on holiday shopping is Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving has long been associated with good deals and the best sales. However, does that really hold up in the grand scheme of things? Are you really going to get the best deal when you brave the crowds on Black Friday?

Black Friday

ShopAdvisor isn’t so sure. A recent release of pricing trends from ShopAdvisor indicates that Black Friday may not be all it promises. While you can certainly find some good deals on Black Friday, it’s not guaranteed to be the best time to go. Here are some of the findings from the ShopAdvisor data:

  • You could get some good deals leading up to Black Friday: The early bird really does get the worm. According to the data, average savings on 6,000 popular items was only really 1 to 2 percent on Black Friday. Indeed, 42 percent of the items tracked were actually less expensive in the four weeks leading up to Black Friday than on the day itself. Sales are starting earlier and earlier, and you can take advantage of that if you’re ready.
  • Maybe you should wait: Even though there is a good chance that you can get some better deals if you shop earlier, the real benefit might come in waiting. According to ShopAdvisor, the lowest across-the-board prices for online and offline stores were on December 18 last year. So, if you wait until that date this year, you might get some better deals than if you brave the crowds on Black Friday. Plus, for 2014, December 18 is Free Shipping Day, so you can use that to your advantage when shopping online.
  • Buy on the weekdays: Thanks to technology, big data, and other advances, pricing can change quickly. Dynamic pricing means that retailers can take advantage of the weekend rush to buy things. This also means that you have a chance to get lower prices during the week. According to the ShopAdvisor data, you can get deeper discounts online and in-store if you shop on the weekdays. How much deeper? You could see 30 percent deeper discounts just by shopping during the week (what are you doing at work, anyway?) than waiting until the weekend.

Understanding these realities of shopping can help you improve your chances of saving money this holiday weekend. If you really want to be ready for the best prices, make a holiday shopping list right now. Pay attention to the items you want to buy, and see if you can be ready to buy them when they go on sale. Combine this watch for sales with price-matching policies, and you could save if prices drop even further. Be sure to save your receipts so that you can take advantage of price-matching deals.

You don’t have to brave the crowds on Black Friday to save on your holiday shopping. In fact, you can do even better if you avoid Black Friday and shop during “off” times — whether you decide to shop online, or go into the store.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.