Monday, November 8, 2010

Black Friday is not the deal it seems

Lately there have been a lot of Black Friday advertisements leaked out into the wild.  You're getting to see what the company will be selling on the day after Thanksgiving in the stores, and this way you'll be able to plan to grab that goodie for your loved one.  There may even be a door buster, and since there's a limited quantity you'll be able to get it before the next guy because you'll be camping out.

Please tell me you don't believe any of this?

First off, the real "Leaks" are rare.  A company does put together an advertisement that will get sent out to the newspapers and magazines and they'll get printed.  Sometimes they get out to the public early.  That's the nature of the beast.  On the other hand the latest trend is false leaks.  There are some specific companies that will "leak" an incorrect advertisement that will get everyone stirred up over the latest gadget at a knock the next guy over price and will have the lines stretching down the block.   Why?  Because it gets people to their door and not the competition.  You get there at 3AM, start downing coffee and get into the Earlybird special at 6AM to find out that the ad has changed, and it was all a hoax or the price was 25% more than the "leak" was.  Oh and the leak was fake.  This happens every year at one of the large national office supply stores and has been reported over the blogs. 

Second, the prices are not all that great, and can even be higher than they were just a week ago - or any other arbitrary time span.  This is the reality of the marketplace.   Retailers know you're going to shop.  It is called Black Friday because in many cases a retail store won't make a profit until this day and every day forward until the end of the year.  This is why many stores close after xmas - they're just scraping by.   A large computer hardware superstore, one that I personally shop at when I need something, leaked its Black Friday Ad and many of the products were inflated over their October prices.  One person responded in a tech blog that the parts for a computer he was planning building all went up by 10%.

Third, isn't your time worth more than that?  If you work and make $50,000 a year you're pulling in $25 an hour.  Planning on getting to a store at 3am to sit overnight to get that new gadget?   The store opens at 6am for the earlybirds?  Add $75 to the price.  Is that $10 price cut worthwhile?

Ok, I won't be sitting outside this holiday season.  If I have to buy anything for anyone, I'll be sitting in front of a PC and surfing for deals.   I won't look at the price without adding shipping, and if the company charges tax, add it in.  You have a Mac?  Linux?  Windows PC?   Start the calculator program and do the math.

There are a number of websites I look at every day.  As a part of staying up to date in the job market, I look at over 1000 jobs a day online.  I look at over 150 web pages full of them.   Some of those 150 or so pages are tech blogs, and others are shopping pages.  It's a good way to learn what is in the "Spot Market" - what the real price for your deals are today.  Not tomorrow, today.

Here are two sites I highly recommend.   They both follow a format of a long list of sales that are good today, and the list changes daily.  Tomorrow this buy may be better or it may have expired.  Sorry, you should have jumped in that case and bought if you REALLY needed that new shiny object.  It takes some studying, but you can do it.  It can be a game.  If all you do is surf at work, then I'm giving you another two sites to snoop every day. 

First site is Dealnews.  Dealnews is user friendly, has bright shiny pictures and will give you some amazing price cuts.   A friend needed a laptop and I went and searched.  After a while, I found the perfect machine for him and a code that gave him an added discount of $250 with free shipping.  Thanks Dealnews, I watch your notices on Facebook every day.  Oh and you aren't limited to Tech because I bought my sneakers through them. $19.95 for $50 sneaks? MINE!

The other one I look at on a daily basis is Techbargains.  That is the link to the "RSS Feed".  Don't worry, its the very basic version of the page and cuts down on the clutter.   Their home page is confusing and I rarely go there directly.  Just too much information when you're just wanting to know what the deal is.  They also have items that are not technical spread throughout. 

The two pages along with the search engine of your choice will help you beat the dis-information campaign that the shops put out every year around this time.  As for me you won't see me in the mall until January most likely.  I can handle the crowds but the usual supply and demand boost of prices we get every year is not worth the time.

Good luck and Happy Shopping!

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