Is Black Friday for Real?

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Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season. Most major retailers open early and offer great deals on their merchandise; for some retailers, this is the point in the year when they begin to turn a profit or are “in the black.” It is not the biggest shopping day of the year; it is the day with the most amount of shopping traffic.

Are the deals really that good?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article after collecting two years worth of data through Decide, Inc., a consumer price research firm. What’s interesting to note is that the data does not include in-store prices or the “door buster specials” that are offered for brief moments on selected items during Black Friday.

After all the price data was collected on various types of merchandise, from jewelry to popular toys to electronics to kitchen appliances, Black Friday did not make the list of days with the best prices! Let’s see how all this shakes out.

A Rise During the Holidays

Jewelry became pricier throughout the three months from October thru December, making Black Friday fairly expensive compared to a month earlier.

Likewise, toys that turn into big hits obviously get pricier during the season as online retailers raise their prices when supplies dwindle. Ron Brawer, a partner at toy maker Maya Group, named a toy that sold for three times as much during the holidays as it had three months earlier.

However, If You Wait…

Kitchen items get lower in mid-December as retailers realize they overbought and need to move the merchandise. Sometimes kitchen appliances can be 20 percent less during the month of December.

A lot can be said for buying gifts throughout the year. You may see something you know someone would want, which may be on sale for a really low price, say in April; if you buy it then, that’s money saved and one less gift to budget for during the holidays. The only problem is that that person may either buy the item in the meantime or simply have a change in desire and no longer want it.

When is the Best Time to Buy the Most Popular Items?

The above research indicated the best time for some of the most popular items is pretty well spread throughout the year. For instance, the price of a Sesame Street Elmo plush toy increased 31 percent on Black Friday but was at its least expensive in mid-March. A Citizen’s watch was lowest at about the same time of year as well.

The average price for a pair of women’s “Classic Cardy” Uggs was about half during September as it was during the holidays. A Samsung LCD TV was about 20 percent lower during October than on Black Friday — same for a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Sometimes, it’s best to wait to see what will happen to the price of a particular item; it could go down as retailers anticipate a greater demand. On the other hand, it may be best to buy when you know the price is a good one while the only direction it can take is up.

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