Our 2016 Black Friday Preview!

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When will we see the best deals? When should you get ready to shop? What day is Black Friday? Should I wait until then? What will be on sale? Will the hot, new products be discounted? Here’s a preview of what we know and what to expect as Black Friday 2016 approaches.

Those are just a few of the questions we’ve heard about Black Friday 2016, and the pace and number of questions is increasing rather rapidly. Interest in this year’s big sales season in the retail world is reminding us of just how much folks love this time of year.

First things first:

We’ve said this each year for the past few Black Fridays: You don’t have to wait until November 25th this year. The really great deals are very likely to start on the first day of November. We’ll be looking a stretch of at least 45 days of madness just as we have the past four or five years if history holds true. Every year the beginning of the highly competitive Holiday shopping period has moved further and further back until it’s reached the beginning of November, and thanks to expedited shipping from an enormous number of sellers, now reaches until just a few days before Christmas. And so, in our estimation, not only is there no reason to wait until and particular day in the month, we think it’s a good idea to pick up what you want early in the month. Last year, for example, we witnessed many “Black Friday” prices available early that were as good as, and occasionally even better than the actual day we shopping lovers voraciously celebrate.

We also repeat this mantra frequently around here: Become informed on what a great deal is. By this we don’t mean that you should spend weeks deciding how much that Samsung 55″ TV you have your eye on should cost. However, checking three or four of your favorite sites to get an idea of what it costs now is ALWAYS a good idea. We’ve actually heard from relatives who told us they got a “hot deal” on an item, knowing full well that the price they paid was, by our standards, too high. Of course, this is a matter of judgement, and if you’re comfortable paying a certain amount, then by all means do so. But if you want to save, and as an always useful general rule, look for at least 20% off the October purchase price (not MSRP but what sellers are actually charging) when you start shopping in November.

As for the “good stuff” that’s a multi-faceted question. Past history tells us that yes, we will see great deals on items released near or during the holiday shopping period. This year those highly sought after items will include big budget items like some of the most popular products from Apple like the iPhone 7 and latest version of their iPad Pro, along with the latest Surface Pro tablets from Microsoft.  A number of video game consoles and games are also likely to be on sale, including the Xbox S and Playstation 4 pro. Fun games like Pokemon Sun and Moon, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and a huge selection of other long awaited titles are likely to be featured in deals of all kinds. Of note, many sellers, assuming that history holds, will offer some combination of discounts and free with purchase items like gift cards as part of the incentive to purchase. Significantly, the most sought after items are likely to go back to their previous prices when the holiday shopping season ends, assuming that patterns of previous years hold.

In our inbox, there is always the question of which is better, shopping in store or online? Obviously, there is only one “best” way to shop every year. With most analysts believing that the money spent online has surpassed that spent at brick and mortar locations, firing up your PC or mobile device is fast becoming the dominant way to shop, not just as Christmas approaches but all year long. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, many stores will advertise a minimum number of a particular item to be in stock beginning at their opening Black Friday hours. Online deals, with many more retailers involved in the competition for your dollar, will draw from many retailers, who together will offer multiple opportunities not just on one day, but throughout the 2016 holiday shopping season, to find that gift you’re looking for at an exceptional price.

Our thirteen years of experience of monitoring web shopping tells us that thanks to an incredibly high level of competition found only on the web, you’re more likely to find a hot price on the item you’re looking for online than at the store. Here’s an example…

A few weeks ago my wife called asking where she could get her hands on a retractable Lightning Cable for her iPhone. I checked online via our hundreds of affiliate partners and found dozens of sellers who offered such an item within 10 minutes, almost all with free shipping. When I checked which retailers offered it at a local store, none had it available for in store pick up, and the lowest price for this type of Apple certified cable was $18 at Best Buy, one of only five local sellers where I found it. Needless to say, we made the purchase online, and the final cost was just $8.99 with shipping included. If you think that’s a skewed picture, we politely disagree. All too often, we found that a trip to a local store, not just for technology items like the one mentioned above, was needlessly costly.

One of the biggest reasons we’ve found to shop online is reviews. Worth at least a moment of thought this season is that you can read what others think about a purchase BEFORE you buy it. If you’re shopping a big retail store during the holidays, no one but the sales clerk will be able to tell you if that products works well and under what circumstances, and that perspective may be skewed. On the other hand, most websites offer customer reviews, and some products have thousands that you can peruse to figure out if it’s worth your money. This is easily the best opportunity we know of to vet a purchase before you make it. Though you can always ask a friend for their thoughts on a product, that’s still only one opinion. Shop online and you’re far more likely to find a bigger sample size of opinions.

So what should you know before you start shopping? Here’s our take:

Our Top 5 Things to Know about Black Friday 2016!

  1. Our expectation is that this year the holiday shopping season will resemble the 2015 version in most ways. Of most significance to our readers (we’re guessing) the number of deals, and how good they will be, will be every bit as fantastic as we saw last year.
  2. The exception to #1 is that we’ll probably see a wider array of categories involved from November to December than ever before. The first few Black Fridays years ago typically offered discounts on just a few types of items like TVs, electronics, toys, and occasionally some tools. This has evolved to the point that we now see not only a vast variety of apparel, washers and dryers, but even health and beauty products (last year we even found some rather incredible deals on soap!) We expect this trend to continue in 2016, with even more hard to find, less popular items like virtual reality glasses and items that make your home “Smart” thanks to advancing technology finding their way into the online holiday price wars.
  3. If you’re the type of person who likes to see and/or hold a product before purchasing a product, we recommend heading to the store to do so. Then go home and look for a deal online on that item before you decide to pick it up at the store. You’re likely to get a better deal at a number of websites than you would in a brick and mortar retail location. Not every item is marked down in store during the holiday season.
  4. Assuming you’ve educated yourself on what a good deal looks like, reject your impulse to purchase until the price is significantly lower than during the rest of the previous year. Here, our standard for a “hot deal” will change and we’ll post only the best prices we find. If you see a deal here, it’s very likely to be worth a purchase, in our opinion.
  5. Be ready to pull the trigger. Black Friday (we expect that to mean roughly November 1 until December 20) is a chance to get some pretty ridiculous offers, so don’t delay when you see the 32″ TV for $99, or the Black & Decker Chainsaw at 50% of it’s usual price point.

Since we’re pretty fond of HDTVs, we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention that topic here. And why not? We’ve found that it’s one of the most popular items to shop for during the Black Friday period. As always, we expect those to be among the hottest deals, often at unbeatable prices (at least until another retailer drops it further still further) and sure to grab your interest regardless of the model or brand you’re interested in.

Top 5 Things to know about Black Friday 2016 HDTV Deals:

  1. Choose your size range and features you can’t live without, along with a list of brands you’re interested in, before you go shopping. Remember, the quality of HDTVs varies depending on a specific model. Read some reviews and you’ll see that NOT ALL sets from a specific brand you like may be worthy of your hard earned money. Then find a price point you’re comfortable with and have your credit card ready.
  2. When you see an advertised upcoming deal (Amazon, just to name one retailer, advertises “Coming up at 6PM…”) head to that page and refresh the screen often. Add to your cart quickly and be prepared to checkout with speed. Having an account at the site means you won’t waste time entering your personal information and risk losing the deal.
  3. Know the seller. If you don’t already know if a seller has a good reputation, it’s pretty to find out. Do a web search of the name of the retailer and read all about them. We’ve never had more access to knowing a seller’s reputation than we do in 2016.
  4. Don’t pick the seller before you shop. The world’s biggest retailer isn’t the only game in town. We know many, many sellers with great reputations who treat their customers well and offer exceptional customer service.
  5. Check who charges sales tax. A number of retailers at eBay, for example, charge tax at checkout only in the state/s in which they have a physical location. Many sellers will add tax to your bill in only state, which on an HDTV could mean even bigger savings in addition to a low price.

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