BBB Tip: How to shop Black Friday sales

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Black Friday, traditionally the single busiest shopping day of the year, is set to begin on Friday, Nov. 26 of this year. Experts are expecting the rise in online shopping to make an impact on in-store purchases. Instead of setting the alarm to brave crowds for deeply discounted items, dedicated shoppers may look for deals online, similar to last year.

Walmart opens at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shopping this year has the potential to shatter previous records, with holiday sales during November and December forecasted between $843 - $859 billion, an 8.5 – 10.5 percent increase from 2020 levels. Numerous economic factors may influence how consumers will shop for the upcoming holiday season, such as the impact of the continued pandemic, hiring challenges for retailers, and the effects of the global supply chain.

With increased holiday purchases both in-person and online, Better Business Bureau expects con artists to attempt to take advantage of those seeking to purchase discounted items disguised as Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. In 2020, one Texas resident reported a fraudulent website to BBB Scam Tracker that was “certainly a pre-Black Friday web-store created to scam deal shoppers. The store allows a purchase to go through to steal credit card information and ships a fraudulent product that does not reflect the actual items ordered.”

If you decide to shop on Black Friday, Better Business Bureau offers these tips to make your shopping experience productive, scam-free and successful.

Make the most of Black Friday deals. Start with a list of items and use sale flyers and promotions to determine which store has the best price. Set a budget and stick with it before heading out.

Read the fine print. Some retailers may offer an additional percentage off the purchase but exclude specific deals or items such as “doorbusters.” Watch for companies boasting a high percentage off; the item may be “75% off,” but the retailer could inflate the original price. Carefully check the price tags, terms and conditions. Research online using a secure Wi-Fi connection to see if competitors have the item at a better price.

Plan out the excursion. Sometimes it's unnecessary to wait to see what retailers will offer deals on Black Friday; often, they will release Black Friday flyers weeks ahead of time so that consumers can plan out their shopping spree. Make a map of the stores to visit and what items are at which store. Some retailers only honor sale ads during a specific time frame or on certain days, and may limit the amount of deeply discounted items available for purchase.

Sign-up for email alerts. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals and exclusive coupons to people who have subscribed to their emails. Sign up ahead of the holiday season, and then unsubscribe afterward, if needed.

Do your research. Read product reviews on highly discounted items. It could be a cheaper model or brand advertised and not what the buyer expects. Check BBB.org for Business Profiles of the stores and read what other customers have experienced.

Know the return policy and warranty information. Pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item. Gift receipts are an easy way for recipients to return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right, but make sure the gift recipient can return the item before purchasing.

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