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Consumer Reports shares advice on what to know before hitting the stores on Black Friday

Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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Tightwad Tod Marks Shares his Tips for Striking Gold on Black Friday
Black Friday is Not the Only Day to Save this Holiday Shopping Season

Yonkers, NY — With Black Friday just days away, Tod Marks, Consumer Reports’ shopping expert and author of the Tightwad Tod blog (www.ConsumerReports.org/tightwadtod), is sharing some advice that can help shoppers get a better deal or even save them a trip to the store on one of the most hectic shopping days of the year.

“We haven't seen this level of discounting in recent memory. The offers started fast and furious in late September, and not a day goes by that a leading retailer doesn't dangle some kind of doorbuster,” says Mr. Marks. “So, don't succumb to the Black Friday hype – retailers are more desperate than ever, and the dealmaking will continue right through the holiday season.”

Consumer Reports has advice for those brave enough to hit the stores this Black Friday – below are a few of the tips that can be found at www.ConsumerReports.org/tightwadtod:

  1. Don’t be desperate. Competition for consumers shopping dollars is unusually intense this season. Shoppers will no doubt find big bargains on Black Friday, however, retailers have been slashing prices aggressively for months. And, there is no reason to believe that the wheeling and dealing will stop anytime soon. Shoppers shouldn’t fret if they miss out on one store blockbuster – another will surely come along. This year, Consumer Reports has seen plenty of so-called one-day sales that were extended.
  2. Shop early. Shoppers should brace themselves for heavy traffic, crowds, and long lines – longer, probably, than they’ve been in a while since many stores are hiring less help this year. To make the most of shopping time, arrive at favorite stores early, before doors open and people pour in. Early birds also get to choose from the entire range of merchandise before it’s been picked through, which means fewer color, size, and style options. Retailers are more inclined to offer unadvertised specials in the morning (and at other slow hours), when shopper traffic is lighter.
  3. Weigh the pros and cons of doorbusters. Black Friday earned the reputation as a bargain-hunter’s paradise because retailers feature a few high-profile, attention-grabbing toys or electronic items at or below cost to draw shoppers in. Such products are typically sold as “loss leaders” and are usually offered in extremely limited quantities. Shoppers shouldn’t bother to show up unless they are willing to wait on line, sometimes for hours before the store opens, and even then there’s no guarantee (or rainchecks). Many stores will be working harder this year to coax shoppers inside. As an added inducement, look for unadvertised sales throughout the day. Kmart, for instance, said such sales are a big part of their holiday merchandising strategy.
  4. Compare deals. There’s no shortage of Web sites that obtain and publish advance notice of Black Friday deals at leading retailers and e-tailers. Many of the hot specials are already listed on www.fatwallet.com, www.bfads.net, www.blackfriday.gottadeal.com, www.dealtaker.com, www.walletpop.com, www.thebackfriday.com, and www.blackfridaydeals.us/shop. The sites often feature downloadable circulars and coupons and information as to which products come with rebates and which merchants offer free shipping.
  5. Visit the retailer’s Web site. Shoppers should sign up for e-mail alerts from their favorite stores to receive notification of upcoming sales and often be targeted with exclusive coupons not readily available to everyone. Shoppers may save themselves a trip to the store by checking online to see if the products they want are stocked and available. In addition, many retailers offer the opportunity to purchase the item online and pick it up locally, also a time-saver.
And to help shoppers make the best purchasing choices this holiday season, consumers are invited to visit http://www.ConsumerReports.org. The site will be updated frequently throughout this Hanukah and Christmas holiday season with new postings to ensure that people are prepared for the holidays with the latest information.
Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org are published by Consumers Union, which accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. With almost 3 million active, paid subscribers, ConsumerReports.org is larger than any other publication-based Web site. All site visitors have free access to helpful advice, safety alerts, recalls, e-Ratings of online commerce sites, and much more. Subscribers have access to Consumer Reports unbiased product and service Ratings and Recommendations, selections from the latest issue of Consumer Reports, a searchable archive of the past four years of ratings, Consumer Reports’ exclusive product and car reliability reports, interactive decision guides, the ability to participate in expert discussions and much more There are two types of subscriptions to ConsumerReports.org (http://www.consumerreports.org/main/commerce/agreement.jsp?source=CR48): an annual subscription for $26 (current subscribers to the magazine can join for $19 per year), or a monthly subscription for $5.95.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.

 
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Consumer Reports shares advice on what to know before hitting the stores on Black Friday
Shoppers should brace themselves for heavy traffic, crowds, and long lines – longer, probably, than they’ve been in a while since many stores are hiring less help this year.
 
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