Marketing, PR & Advertising and Retail

Doorbusters a bust?

NerdWallet study finds Black Friday deals are largely bogus.

November 20, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Consumers might want to be a tad wary of Black Friday deals this year, according to a NerdWallet study.

NerdWallet, a personal finance website, analyzed 21 Black Friday advertisements and found 95 percent of those retailers plan to run the same deals this year as last. The analysis also found many of the retailers offered products for cheaper prices earlier in November than they will on Black Friday.

Despite the analysis suggesting Black Friday “deals” are bogus, NerdWallet’s survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found 76 percent of Americans plan to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday for an average of 4.5 hours.

“This is the fourth year we’ve conducted this analysis, and we’re still seeing repetitive deals every year,” NerdWallet’s shopping manager, Katrina Chan, said. Macy’s, for example, ran 60 repeated deals, according to the study.

“Just because a retailer promotes a certain product as a ‘deal,’ consumers shouldn’t take that at face value. Shoppers still have to do their homework.”

Also included in the deceptive Black Friday strategies were inflated prices. As an example, NerdWallet cites a “Samonsonite Luggage Cape May 2 21-inch carry-on bag for $99.99, with an original price of $260. The same company ran a Veterans Day special for the same product at $99.44, meaning Black Friday’s “doorbuster deal” is actually 55 cents higher than earlier in the month.

“It’s important for shoppers to ignore the Black Friday percent-off claims,” Chan said. “Instead, shoppers should look at the sale price of the item and determine if it’s a price they’re willing to pay.”

NerdWallet also found many of the 2014 deals were better than this year’s deals.

Last year, office supply store Staples had a laser printer on sale for $49.99. This year, the same printer will be “on sale” on Black Friday for $79.99, when it was on the company’s website for $59.99 earlier this month. Similar tactics were found on a KitchenAid stand mixer and a couch.

Along with these findings, NerdWallet found Americans are set to spend more on gifts this year. An accompanying survey found consumers expect to spend $529 this year compared to $440 last year. The survey also found that 55 percent of consumers plan to use cash to pay and 48 percent plan to use a credit card at some point. Additionally, Americans are expected to pay off their credit card debt more quickly than in the past.

“It appears Americans are splurging a little more when buying holiday gifts this year,” Chan said. “One could attribute this to a lower unemployment rate compared to last year. What’s also interesting to note is that while consumers may be comfortable spending more, they’re doing so responsibly and plan to pay off their purchases quickly.”

NerdWallet also provided tips on how to be a more savvy shopper during the holidays:

  • Shoppers should compare prices between retailers and relevant coupons.
  • Online shoppers should look for free shipping and bundle products.
  • Shoppers should use price protection; only 28 percent of Americans have used price matches on a purchase.
  • Shoppers should take advantage of credit card reward programs, such as using a card that offers extra rewards at a grocery store and buying a retailer’s gift card at the store.

While many stores now offer their Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving Day, many other retailers have announced they’ll be closed on Thanksgiving — and some on Black Friday — led largely by the outdoor retailer REI. Costco, Barnes and Noble, H&M, GameStop, Lowes, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Sam’s Club and TJ Maxx all will be closed on Thanksgiving.

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