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Seven Smart Shopping Tips for Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the most popular shopping days of the year. If you plan to hunt for great holiday deals this year, use these tips from the Massachusetts Department of Consumer Affairs newsletter (PDF) to make sure you’re getting the best price:

  1. Comparison shop: What does getting the best deal mean? When you’re looking at sales, do not focus solely on price. Decide which deal will give you the best value, including shipping costs, layaway plans, and free gifts.
  2. Bring ads with you: Once you know what you want and where to get it, print or cut out any ads you’ve seen for the products. Before purchasing, make sure that the prices on the shelf and at the register match the advertised price. Many retailers will be price-matching their competitors, so you may be able to get an item at a different retailer for the same price.
  3. Know store policies: Refunds, cancellations, returns, layaways – be sure to check the retailer’s website for these policies before heading to the store. These also need to be clearly displayed in the store before checkout. Ask for a copy of the policies so you have them on file in case anything goes wrong.
  4. Shop smart with a Smartphone: Apps such as Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper give consumers more on-the-fly shopping information then ever. These apps can scan an item’s barcode, show reviews, keep track of deals, navigate between stores, and provide instant comparison shopping.
  5. Know the deal: Retailers typically advertise Black Friday prices as the lowest of the year, but this is not always true. Some items may be offered at lower prices other times during the year. Be aware of this when looking at sale prices and check around to compare one retailer’s deals with another.
  6. Watch for inflated prices and exaggerated markdowns: Some sellers will inflate the “regular” price of an item in order to increase the markdown and give the appearance of a deal when no money is actually saved. Watch out for overlapping price tags and know what the real normal cost is before making a purchase.
  7. Use Layaway: For an item that may sell out, putting it on layaway is a great way to pay at your convenience while not missing the deal because of limited supply.