It’s hard to resist the idea of scoring hot-ticket holiday gifts at half the price, but Black Friday’s siren song of sales may not always save you money. According to Steve Siebold, author of the book How Rich People Think, Americans spent a whopping forty-five billion dollars and many bought well beyond their means during last year’s Black Friday. While many of the door-busters that stores have been hawking since Halloween are undeniably good, beware of the following traps and tricks of the year’s biggest shopping day.
You end up purchasing way more than you can afford or need. Stores don’t offer deep discounts out of holiday goodwill. Rather, management knows that a huge sale often gets people to buy more than they normally would. “Middle Class America is notorious for living beyond their means, especially on Black Friday,” says Siebold. “They are brainwashed about how much money they are supposedly saving on Black Friday, and they end up buying way more than they would on any other day during the year.” You might find yourself more likely to “stock up” on items that are half-price, but remember a deal is only a deal if you were going to buy the items anyway.
The deals aren’t always as good as they seem. While there might be several items in a store that are legitimate steals, the majority of the merchandise is not on sale. Some big-name stores even slyly mark up prices before the holidays just so they can advertise “big sales,” when in reality, the items are simply being brought back to normal price. The stores’ layouts encourage more browsing and buying. Retail stores tend to put sale merchandise in the back, hoping you’ll see the brand new, full-price winter coats before the cheaper, so-one-month-ago sweaters. To outsmart the product placement layout, always start shopping at the back of the store and work your way towards the front. That way you‘ll hit the sale items before the new full-priced merchandise. Retailers lure customers with door-buster deals they probably won’t get. Retailers often dangle too-good-to-be-true deals, such as a plasma screen TV for a mere $199 or the brand new Bratz doll at a one-time half-off rate. You might be wondering how stores can sell these top of the line, high-demand products at immensely discounted prices. The truth is, they can’t afford to, and thus only sell a very limited quantity at the slashed prices. Using the advertisements as bait, retailers reel in the crowds, only to release a handful of reduced items, even though their stock rooms are bursting. Stores hope—and are usually right—that once shoppers spend time and effort waiting in line and braving the crowds, they won’t want to walk away empty-handed even if it means spending more money.
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