It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means we are now less than 48 hours from … On this day, thousands of retailers will be holding flash sales to attract customers to their stores. Some even plan to start their promotions tomorrow, while others have already started.

For a lot of people the whole thing is hideous – rebellious shoppers standing in long lines just to save a few dollars on useless items – but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing what to look for can save you really good money on good products and, in many cases, avoid the crowds.

Where to look

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Growing up, I remember spending Thanksgiving afternoons looking at the oversized newspaper with Black Friday newsletters from Best Buy and other retailers. Now all you have to do is get online to see what discounts are available on Black Friday as there are dozens of websites serving BF ads from all major retail chains, many several weeks in advance.

I tend, or, since they do a great job, not only to run Black Friday ads, but also to make them easy to sift through. You can display your ads page by page, or search for a specific SKU or product type. It doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you’re looking for or if you just want to browse, this is where you start.

From there you can visit the websites of individual retailers as they usually display their best deals on their home pages, as well as industry-specific websites such as. Because we keep an eye on Apple’s products and prices, we typically offer significant discounts for iPhones, iPads, and Macs. This is the case with many other tech and review sites.

Deal or no deal?

Now what do you do when you know how to search for deals when you find one? The first thing you want to do is make sure that it really is a deal. According to a recent study, 93% of Black Friday promotions are not worth it. I think that’s a bit extreme, but the concept is correct. Retailers cannot simply discount 50% of all their best-selling products because they would go broke. So they came up with a few tricks for entering the numbers.

One of the most common tricks is selling older products with the current prices indicated in the discount. You will see this a lot with iPads and other electronics: “Get this 16GB Wi-Fi iPad with Retina display (3rd generation model) for $ 349, a savings of $ 150 equivalent has not been sold for $ 500 for a long time. There is a similar trick with jewelry where retailers quote a ridiculously high retail price (manufacturer recommended price) to make the discount seem bigger than it actually is.

Another thing to watch out for are “time limited” products. These are usually electronic items that appear around Black Friday at prices that seem impossible to reach. For example, you can see Best Buy and other retailers selling a Panasonic 50-inch 1080p HDTV for $ 199 this year. The TV is most likely made from old recycled parts or missing key features – manufacturers love to make these types of products this time of year because … people will buy them. This is also common with DSLR cameras: be careful with the T5i, it’s not the same as the T5i.

The best way to keep Black Friday from going bad is, believe it or not, Google. Find the model number of the discounted item you are interested in and google it along with the name of the manufacturer. This should return purchase results from other stores and check results from sites like CNET to give you a good idea of ​​how old the product is and whether users are happy with it (I also always like to search Amazon as they have one of the most active Product review sections on the web). If it’s a relatively new product with good reviews, you’ve found a deal.

To move fast

And now that you’ve found a deal, it’s time to buy. Obviously, many sales are embargoed until Black Friday or at a specific time set by the retailer. However, be prepared to pull the trigger as soon as possible.

It is important to be quick to deal with Black Friday sales for a few reasons, such as: B. for reasons of limited stock. Whether you are shopping in-store or online, the retailer is most likely unable to purchase the item you want. So hesitation can cost you. To give you an idea of ​​just how tight supplies can be, many stores hand out numbered tickets – much like an iPhone startup – so latecomers don’t have to waste time waiting.

Sales can also be time-limited, which means prices can go down even if stocks are not exhausted. This is very common in ecommerce stores like Amazon that have hours of flash deals and similar specials. I recently got some of this at Best Buy, where the online price of a soundbar went up $ 150 in a matter of hours.

Side note: you will find that I haven’t talked much about getting up early to reserve your front row seat as I don’t think it’s necessary anymore. Most retailers are adjusting their Black Friday in-store prices online this year – including door openers. Unless an ad specifically states that an item is only available in store, there should be no need to leave their home.

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It may seem like there’s a lot of information here, but it can all be summed up in a few simple words: knowing where to look, what to look for, and when to buy. Sure, Black Friday is full of misleading ads, long lines, and other nasty things, but I think you’ll find that if you do a little research and show yourself prepared, you can save a remarkable amount of money on quality products.

Happy hunting.

Black Friday Guide: How to Separate the Deals from the Flops


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