If you're still undecided about whether or not to head out on Black Friday, we've got a list of some of the best, and worst, deals.
Here Are Some Bad Ones
Don't be fooled by an ad comparing the Black Friday sale price to the manufacturer's suggested retail price. Things are almost never sold at the MSRP, and the reference is meant to create perceived value where there is none.
Christine Frietchen, Editor and Chief of consumersearch.com, spent the last few weeks scouring ads and daily deals, and provided Walletpop with some specific examples.
The Haan Steam Mop might be a really good product in that category, but the $105 "doorbuster" deal at Sears is nothing special. "You can get it today on Amazon.com for $108," Frietchen says.
Mattel's Mindflex game was one of last year's hot toys and Target will have it for $50 on Black Friday (regularly $70), says Frietchen, but you can get it for $54 pretty much anywhere, anytime ($54 at Walmart, Amazon.com and Toys R Us). And the Skil iXO3 pocket cordless screwdriver is advertised in the Lowe's circular for $29.97. But that's Lowe's regular everyday price – you could have had it for that same price yesterday.
Netbooks, notebook computers and e-readers were expected to be hot categories this Black Friday. And while you might see plenty in the ads, most are from second- and third-tier brands and few are compelling buys at any price.
You won't find the iPad on sale and tablet computers from the likes of Sylvania aren't favored choices on review sites. Kmart has an "Aluratek eReader" for $90 on Black Friday, but with the Barnes & Noble Nook at Best Buy for $99, it hardly seems worth it, Frietchen points out. Don't get sucked in by the ad prices and language. Sometimes a better reviewed product is actually priced lower than the doorbusters.
If you're looking for clothing, wait until after Black Friday. This category gets more heavily discounted the closer we get to Dec. 25. Or better yet, buy a gift card and let the recipient shop the after-Christmas sales for clothing, when the deals really are big.
Best Buy and other electronics stores are featuring loads of cell phones in Black Friday ads, but it's really hard to buy one as a gift, given the contract requirements and family plans. These deals are smoke and mirrors. Move on.
And Now for the Good
Frietchen likes Target's $4 prices on classic games like Candyland (compared to the $3 sandwich maker that won't last long, get used much and take up counter space).
Target also has some good deals on well-reviewed TVs, and while prices typically go down again after the holidays and just prior to the Super Bowl as manufacturers and retailers make room for new models, Frietchen recommends the 40-inch Westinghouse for $300 compared to $500 regularly. "It's not the best in the world, but if you're not a picky viewer, it's a good price," she says.
Also, there's a 32 inch Emerson TV at Walmart that gets good user reviews for $198 on Black Friday vs $328. "We didn't see any fine print about limited quantities, and it will also be available online," she says. A rarity for Black Friday.
The Canon PowerShot A3100 IS is a great beginner camera, and featured at OfficeMax and Toys R Us on Black Friday for $100 (normally $130). The Oral-B ProfessionalCare 1000 electric toothbrush at Target is $35 on Black Friday, compared to $75. It has a rechargeable battery, pressure sensor and timer, and gets great reviews, says Frietchen.
But her personal pick for the day is the Brother Project Runway sewing machine at Walmart, on sale for $50 on Black Friday and regularly $135. Frietchen, a self-proclaimed crafter, was blown away by this deal, "having looked at all the Black Friday machines at JoAnn, Walmart and Sears."
One final word of advice for Black Friday. A deal isn't a deal just because an ad says so. Shop smart and be safe.
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