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

Black Friday is supposed to be day with the best deals, but is that what you’re really getting, or are you falling for the shopping-day hype?

Sales seem to be everywhere you look nowadays.

At Walmart on Keeaumoku Street, the Black Friday deals are bound in shrink wrap, like a gift, not to be opened for two more days.

“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, the 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.

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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