As the holiday season approaches, Americans prepare themselves to head out to the stores to find the perfect gifts. Many wait for the great Black Friday deals because they can save you hundreds of dollars. Retailers are gearing up for the big day - newspapers are stuffed with sale flyers, commercials are promoting the “door buster” deals, and online ads promise the best bargains.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 154 million participated in Black Friday shopping last year. This number was up from the previous year, and it’s predicted it will only go up from there.
“Although the deals may be great, there are still some dangers lurking during these sales,” stated Jim Hegarty, president of the Better Business Bureau serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa. “Ease your shopping day by making a game plan, sticking to your budget, and understanding each store’s return policy.”
- Read the fine print. Some stores only honor sale ads during a certain time frame, or on certain days. Some stores may only allow you to purchase one item, particularly large, popular and/or deeply discounted products.
- Establish a budget. Shoppers tend to overspend during the holidays, especially as new deals are unveiled. Stay ahead and plan how much you want to spend on each person.
- The cheapest product is not always the best deal. “Door buster” sales are great, but they might not always offer the best product for your needs.
- Sign-up for email alerts. Many stores release their best Black Friday deals to people who have signed up to receive their emails. Just make sure it’s the real business and not a scammer. Red flags include receiving such an email when you never shopped with the business or never signed up for email alerts.
- Ask for gift receipts and save warranty information. A gift receipt can be tucked into a gift item so that the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it’s not quite right. Be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the recipient. Keep in mind that retailers are permitted to set their own return/exchange policies.
- Inquire about the store's return policy before you make your purchase. Also, ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don't lose them. Many stores will require you to produce a receipt for a return.
- Pay with a credit card and keep documentation of your order. By using a credit card you have a better chance of disputing charges if something goes wrong with your purchase. Keep any e-mails or receipts in case a return needs to be made.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Stores get busy and it’s a great time for a thief to blend into the crowd. Thieves may see you struggling with an armful of shopping bags and consider it an opportunity to steal your wallet or purse.
Before your shopping expedition, you can go online to bbbinc.org or call 800-649-6814 for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in specific industries and find Business Profiles on ones you’re considering for your holiday needs.
ABOUT BBB: Better Business Bureau has been assisting U.S consumers and businesses since 1912. It is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. Today, BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is supported by approximately 10,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB’s Standards of Trust