In this article, we’ll slice through 17 of the biggest myths surrounding Black Friday, so that you can shop smarter, get the gifts your family wants most, and spend more time with your loved ones.
Myth #1: Black Friday Deals Start on Black Friday
Sure, it used to be that Black Friday deals started on, you know, the Friday after Thanksgiving.
But in modern times, many retailers have started offering great deals as soon as Thanksgiving morning (this year, Walmart will open at 12:01 AM). So if you’re hardcore, start checking early.
Myth #2: The Best Deals Are Always on Black Friday
Again, this probably used to be the case in years past, but today, Black Friday is just the kick off to a whole weekend of savings, including Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. And in many instances, retailers will match or beat their Black Friday prices weeks or months later on certain items.
In fact, depending on the items you’re looking for, you might want to wait until after the Holiday season altogether to begin shopping. This is particularly the case for luxury goods, jewelry, office supplies, winter apparel, and brand name HDTVs.
Myth #3: You Need to Show Up Early
This one depends on what you’re looking for.
But as long as you’re not interested in a doorbuster deal (more about these next), keep in mind that many retailers are staying open later (and are even offering exclusive deals for night owl shoppers), so it might be better to wait until your turkey’s settled before heading out.
Myth #4: There Are Plenty of Doorbuster Deals to Go Around
The reality is that doorbusters are intended to get people in the door and shopping for other products.
As such, retailers only stock a handful (usually less than 10, depending on the item) of doorbuster deals. To grab these, you’ll need to show up early.
Myth #5: Doorbusters Are Only Available In-Store
But you know what? You might not even need to change out of your jammies to score great doorbuster deals!
This is because many online retailers, such as Amazon, will feature a ton of doorbusters on their own this year.
Myth #6: The Best Deals Are Always Online
Just because it’s become commonplace for online retailers to offer their doorbuster deals, just like with any other retailer, this doesn’t mean they’ll be priced the lowest.
The good news is that online retailers often have more of their doorbuster deals in stock than brick-and-mortar stores, so they might take longer to run out.
Just remember, though, you might be competing with only a few hundred other shoppers for doorbuster deals at real-world stores, but you could be competing against tens of thousands online.
Myth #7: Your Online Order Is a Sure Thing
Speaking of which, remember that just because your online order was processed, this doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily get the item.
There are hundreds of stories about shoppers who thought they snagged a popular item, only to receive an email later letting them know they didn’t.
As we mentioned previously, a lot of people will be shopping online soon, and a retailer’s inventory might not be up to date when you place your order.
Myth #8: Ad Scans Represent the Biggest Savings
Second, only to the items themselves, ad scans displaying retailers’ Black Friday deals are perhaps the most anticipated event of the season.
But did you know that they don’t always represent the biggest savings? Instead, these ad scans are typically created to promote only a select few products, while the “real” deals are advertised elsewhere, such as through email, on social media sites, and more.
So, in addition to ad scans, it’s important for you to sign up for retailers’ email lists and regularly check in on their social media accounts. There are also a ton of apps you can use to shop smarter this Black Friday.
Bonus: Some retailers’ apps can use your phone’s built-in geolocation feature to alert you to special deals when you’re in a store, or even at one of their competitor’s stores!
Myth #9: Black Friday Ads Are “Leaked”
Not only do Black Friday ad scans not necessarily represent their best deals, but they’re also not “leaked.”
In other words, this is pure PR hype. These ad scans are closely guarded secrets and are released at very specific times to build buzz and consumer excitement.
Myth #10: All Black Friday Deals Are Created Equal
But remember: Whether or not a retailer’s Black Friday deals are found in ad scans or only in store, they’re not all created equal. Why?
Because some of these deals could be on pared-down versions of the real thing; some are even created specifically for Black Friday. These deals might even be on last year’s models!
This is especially true for electronics, so if you’re in the market for an HDTV, laptop, PC, or mobile device, be sure to check with other retailers and make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples.
Myth #11: You’ll Get Good Apple Deals on Black Friday
When it comes to electronics, there’s probably no other name more synonymous with tech than Apple.
But despite different promotions they might be running, the Apple store rarely discounts their items on Black Friday. Instead, you’ll almost certainly find better deals on Apple products at third-party retailers like Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and MacMall.
Myth #12: You’ll Be Able to Price Match
Traditionally, despite all the hype surrounding price-matching apps you can use while shopping on Black Friday, many retailers suspend their normal price matching policies during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping weekend.
However, this trend might be changing, as Target recently announced it “would expand its in-store and online price-matching policy by adding 24 online competitors, including warehouse clubs.”
On top of this, Walmart and Best Buy seem to be falling in line as well, so retailers who don’t price match might soon be a thing of the past.
Myth #13: You’ll Be Able to Return an Item
In addition to their normal price matching policies, many retailers also restrict their return policies for items purchased over the Black Friday weekend.
This can include shorter return windows (e.g. 10 days instead of 30 days) and steep restocking fees. In many instances, such as doorbusters, you might not be able to return them at all.
This is especially true for electronics, so if you have some on your Black Friday shopping list, be sure to ask about any special return policies during checkout.
Myth #14: Black Friday Is Just a Bunch of Crazed Shoppers
If you’re glued to the news during the Black Friday weekend, you’ll undoubtedly see dozens of stories about fights breaking out, people getting hurt, and other kinds of negativity.
But the reality is that, just like you, the vast majority of Black Friday shoppers are simply out to save some money and have a little fun in the process. The media greatly hypes up the amount of violence this time of year.
In fact, most people feel a sense of camaraderie with other shoppers on Black Friday.
Myth #15: Black Friday Is Stressful
If you get it out of your head that everyone’s out to harm you (or at least steal your deals), then Black Friday doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it can be downright enjoyable.
It all comes down to your mindset. If you’re feeling anxious, take a deep breath, smile, relax, and take the opportunity to make new friends. After all, you’re probably going to be shoulder-to-shoulder for a while.
Myth #16: You Don’t Have to Plan Ahead
Want to know what will stress you out?
Thinking that you’re going to be a well-oiled shopping machine when Black Friday arrives, without preparing in advance.
Sure, if you’re just in it for the overall experience, then planning ahead isn’t a big deal. But if you’re looking to consistently score the best deals, you’ll need to plan out your course of action beforehand.
Obviously, you’ll want to start at the store with the top item on your list. But from there, you’ll need to decide which retailers to visit next, in the order of their importance.
If you are visiting a mall during your Black Friday shopping, be sure to log onto the mall’s website and print out a copy of their map. This can help you decide where to park to get in—and out—fast (there are even apps that can help you find parking!).
Myth #17: You’ll Know Where to Go
And once you get in the store, things might not be much easier. Why?
Because even if you are shopping at a retailer you regularly visit, they might not always place products where you think they’d go. Retailers often display as many Black Friday deals as they possibly can, and floor space is at a premium.
So you might end up finding an item on the other side of the store from where you’d normally expect.
Remember how we talked about maps previously? Many popular retailers provide maps in their apps, so this is even more of a reason to download them.
For additional Black Friday & Holiday tips, be sure to check out our Holiday Shopping Guide.