Posts Tagged ‘Black Friday’
Well, Black Friday has come and gone, and, as predicted, I did all my shopping online. The only thing I bought in person was a haircut.
We finally got a new TV like we had been talking about for years. We’ve been thinking about moving into a bigger house when I finish gradschool, and I didn’t want to have to deal with moving the old rear projection behemoth that probably weighs more than me. Yet, we have no way of knowing what sized living room we’ll have in the new house, though. We also know so little of flat panel TVs that I don’t know what features are must haves and what are market hype. So we’re starting with the cheapest one we could find – a starter TV, if you will. I followed @bestbuy_deals on twitter and the new TV was their deal of the day.
It’s hard to say how good the deal was. The price went up between $30-70 after the deal of the day ended (gotta love those price fluctuations). CamelBuy seems to think it’s a good deal. It does include free shipping and take away of the old TV. I estimated that would have cost us $70-$100, so that’s definitely something.
I blew this one. Everyone and their mother seemed to offer a discounted Sonicare Toothbrush and my old one needed to be replaced. I decided to wait it out and see if there would be a lightening deal, or a price matching price drop occur. Only I didn’t think to use camelcamelcamel to alert me to the price! I know I said I was going to, and I did for other products, but didn’t think to do it for the sonicare. It wasn’t until a friend mentioned being alerted on a price drop for a DSLR for his wife that it occurred to me to check camelcamelcamel. Sure enough, there was a temporary $5 price drop that I had missed. Drat. So I bought it at the advertised black Friday price.
I confess, this one was going to be an in store purchase. I noticed Target was selling Jumperoos at a discount in their pre Black Friday sale, and I assumed the price would continue into the weekend. Since I wasn’t sure which one I wanted, I thought I would take a few days to think about it. Come Friday I discovered that the sale had ended. Luckily, Amazon was still price matching the earlier deal. It’s already shipped, and although I did not pay extra for expedited shopping, it will be here in one day. Score!
I needed given the insane number of photos I take of Nicki. In fact, it was the purchase I was most adamant about. I found BestBuy was offering the best deal, and I hovered around the website starting at 9pm on Wednesday (technically Thanksgiving day on the east coast.) At around 10pm the deal went life, and I snatched it up! Of course, the memory card was available all weekend, but I didn’t want to take that chance.
Online shopping was definitely a win. It was really nice to not have to worry about crowds or fighting for parking spaces, especially the baby, and there were plenty of good deals available online.
We also cut down greatly on impulse deals. (“Impulse deals” is a bit of an oxymoron, no matter what the deal price, it’s still higher than what you were planning on spending anything!) The only things we got that weren’t on my list were 2 CDs (one of which I’m currently listening to) and an HDMI cable (needed for the new TV).
Estimated total savings ~ 30%. Not bad, but I’ve done better.
It’s a good thing I decided to test our online strategy early. Monitoring tweets with tweet alarm just isn’t going to work, at least not how I originally set it up.
The first problem is that I’m getting alerts for tweets like “Fry’s Black Friday 2011 Ads Finally Revealed”. Yes, that’s a recent tweet from today! Most likely it isn’t a legitimate account. I’d link to it, but the shortened link in the tweet is most likely a virus. It made me realize that tweet monitoring may be bad advice. If you decide to use tweet monitoring, be careful not to click on links from accounts you don’t recognize. The second problem is that I’m getting too many tweets. I can’t find the legitimate ones mixed in with the illegitimate ones.
I’m not giving up on social media for Black Friday. In the past I’ve used the websites Black Friday Ads and BlackFriday Info, both of which have twitter accounts (@BFAds and @blackfridayinfo, respectively). It may take me longer to get notifications of good deals, but at least I can trust the information.
It’s starting already. Apple and Amazon are kicking off the shopping season with the rumored announcement of the iPhone 5 expected this week and last week’s Kindles announcement. Even though I won’t be pregnant this time around, we still plan on focusing our shopping efforts online. I really don’t relish the idea of taking a sub five month old out during some of the busy shopping days of the year, in the middle of flu season! As such, it’s time to update our Back Friday strategy with the times.
We’re developing our strategy primarily to catch surprise deals – those we won’t know about in advance. Since we expect the deals to start prior to Black Friday, and continue well into Cyber Monday (which is more like Cyber Week…) we also want to make sure we don’t buy too early if someone else is going to have a better deal.
Dynamic Pricing is becoming increasingly common. It’s been speculated that retailers like Walmart and Amazon will rely on dynamic pricing this holiday season to undercut the competition. In order to capitalize on these price fluctuations, we plan to set up price watches.
We intend to utilize Camelcamelcamel (Amazon price watches), and it’s companion websites CamelBuy (BestBuy price watches) and CamelEgg (NewEgg price watches). Last year, many of the big chains had great deals in the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday for items like video games, books, music, toys, and electronics. They even had price drops for big ticket items as well like TVs and gaming consoles. Sometimes these price drops were advertised in advance, but not always. Price watching alerts you to sales as they happen, giving you the best chance possible to grab items as they go on sale before they’re sold out.
I have adjusted all my price watches on down significantly (I never buy during the black Friday season unless it’s an amazing deal!). Currently on my price watch? Memory Cards for the camera, and baby toys & books.
Price watching, however, can only get you so far. Bundles were common last year, and I suspect they will be again. Rather than drop the price of, say, an Xbox 360, retailers will bundle it with several games or with gift cards. Bundles are popular when manufactures control the price of products so retailers can’t discount them. Apple is a prime example. Many of these bundles will be announced for Black Friday, but some are surprises and will happen in the weeks and days leading up to it. Since bundles appear as new product listings, automated price watching won’t work.
When we were gearing up for our baby, I set up Google alerts in the hopes of catching sales from online stores too small to have dedicated price alert websites. I’d set an alert with the name of the product I was interested in, and the phrase ‘(Discount OR Sale)’. The strategy didn’t work for me. Turns out Google alerts were not real time enough. For this shopping season, I’m turning to twitter and social media. Nothing is more real time than twitter.
I’ve already friended companies in Facebook and follow them on Twitter already to watch for coupons. For the holiday season I plan to use saved searches, and set up an account with tweetalarm.com. Once those deals are live, you can bet some happy consumer will take to twitter to share the joy of their new purchase. Since I’m new to twitter, I’m testing both services out now. What am I searching for now? #Blackfriday! I want to catch any other good strategy ideas in time to use them.
No, I’m not talking about our blunder (although I’m not loving the sheet set as much as I thought I would. I think there’s a chemical on them that I’m extra sensitive to due to pregnancy.) I’m talking about the retailer’s blunder.
It seems we weren’t the only ones who stayed mostly in this black Friday. Online sales were on the raise, especially on Thanksgiving itself. Cyber Monday sales are up too. This is a trend I like to see, as next year I doubt we’ll be spending much time our shopping with such a small infant.
The increase to online sales came with a few glitches. BestBuy, in particular, couldn’t handle the increase demand and accepted more transactions than they couldn’t deliver on. They had to cancel some orders at the last minute. Maybe that’s why the camcorder wasn’t selling out. Maybe in my web browser it appeared available when it really wasn’t.
But BestBuy isn’t the only one. The record traffic was difficult for Walmart and Target to handle. In fairness, Target’s troubles started before black friday.
It’s good news if you’re a web developer. Particularly if you’re expertise is in cloud computing or scaling. Since online sales are up so much, you can bet major retailers will be pulling out all the stops to make sure their ready for next year! I also read (although I can’t find the source) that there will be a push to support more mobile devices, including the iPad. I am looking forward to Black Friday from the comfort of my couch!
As predicted, Black Friday was largely a bust for us. We did snag a couple of good deals – new sheets, that dust buster (although not as cool as the Dyson Hand Vac), a Christmas present or two. According to the receipts it’s an average savings of 56% (of course that’s an over estimate.)
No TV. I just wasn’t blown away by any of the deals, and the lack luster deals just didn’t motivate me to spend any money. There will be more sales in anticipation of the Super bowl, so maybe then we’ll take the plunge. I had very low energy today (I’ve been a little under the weather) which prevented us from going out most of the day, which lead us to an interesting discovery.
One of the things I was interested in was a camcorder. I love my camera, but wanted to also be able to take video. Both Amazon and BestBuy had the Sony HD Camcorder for the same sale online. While Amazon’s had free shipping, BestBuy had in store pickup. The only other difference between the two is the color, BestBuy’s version is dark blue were Amazon’s camcorder is black. Amazon’s deal was available as a lightening deal this evening, and sold out immediately. In fact, it looked like it was gone as soon as it became available!) BestBuy’s deal was available all day and still is according to their website.
While I can believe color would matter (I prefer black to dark blue myself) and shipping is more convenient than in store pick up, it’s hard for me to imagine the Amazon deal being that much more preferred than the BestBuy one! Or that someone who missed out on the Amazon deal wouldn’t settle for the BestBuy one. The only two explanations I can think of is that maybe it’s a matter of inventory or consumer reach. If Amazon’s stock was dwarfed by BestBuy’s, maybe everyone who wanted a camcorder got one, and BestBuy still has some extras. On the other hand, maybe some consumers don’t know about the BestBuy deal, or live too far away from a BestBuy to pick one up. Still, it seems odd to me that Amazon’s deal would be gone in seconds, when BestBuy’s deal has been available all day.
Regardless, shopping at home was easy and convenient. It was also fun with the dual laptop’s going (me on mine, D on his) trying to score those lightening deals. I am sure we will continue to do more black Friday shopping from the comfort of our couch in the years to come.
I will be interested when the final Black Friday are published, that’s for sure!
This year’s lead up to black Friday has been a little disappointing.
We’ve been debating about a 3D TV. I’ve been hoping for a good deal to help us make up our minds. I’ve seen a couple fliers for black Friday deals and wanted to see the TV in person, to see the TV quality. We went to Best Buy first. They had five 3D TVs on display. Two of which were not receiving any signal. One was displaying a movie in 3D, but the active glasses weren’t powered, so you couldn’t view the 3D! The final two were receiving a signal, but not responding to commands, so you couldn’t compare them using the same video. One was showing ESPN in 3D and was so horribly pixilated you wouldn’t believe it was HDTV. We couldn’t tell if the problem was the TV, or the ESPN feed. What gives Best Buy?! I think this may have been the push I needed to settle on a 2D TV.
Another thing we’re considering is a Dyson Hand Vac. I previously mentioned we needed a new dust buster. We love our Dyson Animal. It’s the only vacuum that’s held up over time. Since our hand vacs keep losing suction, we decided it’s time to consider the next level in hand vacs. I found a few black Friday deals, but the original price was marked higher so the black Friday deal doesn’t beat Bed Bath and Beyond with their 20% off coupon! Lame.
We have a couple little things on our list, but so far, this year is looking like a bust for the big ticket items.
We have a strategy we employee every black Friday for the past few years, and no it does not involve waiting in line all night or getting up pre dawn, or even fighting massive crowds. I hate crowds, cold, and lack of sleep. Instead our strategy starts super early and involves a lot of advance planning, with very little lifting on the actual day.
Know the Season. It starts earlier and earlier. There are targeted “Black Friday” like sales throughout the months of October and November. I tend to wait for sales for most purchases, but starting in September I hold off on most major purchases. Anything that we don’t need right away and a possible candidate for a Black Friday goes on a Black Friday wish list. Best candidates for black Friday sales: electronics – especially video game related, or digital picture frames, TVs, VCRs, personal laptops, cameras, both point and shoot and DSLR camera bodies and kits, etc – winter clothing, household items, kitchen appliances.
This year I’ve been holding off on a new dust buster. Ours is functional, but we generally need to do a couple passes to pick up all the dirt. As long as it doesn’t die, I refuse to replace it until the sale is right.
Plan in Advance. The list helps me stick to a plan, and keeps me from being overwhelemed. The items on the list are the things we need, so these are the things I will search for. I use pre-Black Friday announcements to find stores offering discounts on the things I want. I keep track of multiple stores per item, since I adamantly refuse to wait in line in the cold over night, sometimes the door busters are gone by the time I am ready to shop. Our goal is to find great deals – not necessarily the best possible.
The Day Of. After waking up from our tryptophan induced sleep we start with a hardy brunch. Most of the diehard black Friday enthusiasts are winding down, and heading home to nap. At this point, anything deal that hasn’t already sold out, is not likely to in the next couple of hours, so we don’t feel particularly rushed. Shopping on a full stomach after a full night of sleep is so much more pleasant.
Be Persistent. Just because the door busters are gone at one target, doesn’t mean they’re gone at another. We’ve been surprised at how one store will be completely out of an item, and another store not five miles away still has all their’s stock. If there’s something you really want, don’t give up. Try multiple places. Remember some stores will price match. So if Target is out of dyson vaccum cleaners, you may still get your deal by taking the sales flyer to Best Buy.
Evening/Two Day Deals Both Target and Walmart do a “two-day” black Friday. This means they hold off on some merchandise to put out for Saturday. Last year we were in Target around midnight Friday, when they were bringing out pallets for the next day. We scored both a crockpot and a toaster from Target, simply by being in the right place at the right time.
We’re going to get a HDTV. Really. Honest. We’ve been talking about it for a few years, we’ve just yet to pull the trigger. We’re talking about getting a 3D HDTV.
The issue that’s holding us back is our real projection TV still works. The frugal-ista in me doesn’t want to spend money I don’t have to, so if it still works, why replace it? Well, rear projection TVs have an aspect ratio of 4:3, meaning the height is approximately 3/4ths the width. HDTVs have an aspect ratio of 16:9, meaning they are much wider. These days, most cable providers assume everyone has an HDTV, so they’re broadcasting more and more in the 16:9 aspect ratio. Sometimes this means the image is shrunk so it fits the width of the TV, and some of the screen is blank. More often, however, it means the ends of the image are being chopped off. It’s surprising how often something important is in that chopped off corner and I end up not knowing know who John Stewart was making fun of in the daily show. So I think it’s finally time to buckle down and get a new TV.
Last year we discussed getting a 3D HDTV. I was amused at the notion of completely skipping the 2D HDTV generation. But they were expensive, too expensive. I missed the 2D TVs I wanted for black Friday so I thought I’d wait another year rather than settle for a mediocre sale. Today I’ve found a article in the economist that 3Ds are starting to become worth it. There’s still not a lot of 3D content, but the 3D technology comes on TVs that have better HDTV capabilities. So the economist argued a 3D TV was worth it, for the better HDTV. There seems to only be a $100 difference between comparable 3D and 2Ds from the same manufacture, so 3D TVs are no longer “premium” priced. Score!
The trouble is, I still don’t know much about HDTVs. We talked to one sales man who said Plasmas still have the burn-in issue. (Consumer reports appears to back this up). Bummer. There also seems to be a difference in quality. Some TVs have a ghosting effect, some don’t.
Ghosting occurs when the images for the left eye and right eye aren’t filtered 100% correctly. It’s also the reason I try not to watch 3D movies in the movie theater. The movie theater uses polarizing filters to filter the right image from the left image, because the glasses are cheaper to produce and needed in bulk. But anyone who works with polarizing filters for photography can tell you, cheap polarizing filters won’t completely separate the image. Some 3D TVs use polarizing filters, but many use the active shuttering technology. It makes for more expensive glasses, but for the headache prone like me, it seems like the way to go.
The store we were in was playing two different movies on two different TVs, so I’m not sure if the one had ghosting was because of the movie, the TV, or the glasses. Each 3D TV manufacture appears to make multiple different glasses, presumably of different quality. I don’t even know if the TVs were active shuttering or polarizing technologies. We’ll be doing a lot of research between now and Black Friday (because I still refuse to pay a lot!) I need to firm up an idea of what size TV we want, and what would be a good deal.
Oh, and if you like the idea of a 3D TV, but don’t want glasses, you may only have to wait a few more years. Think I can convince Domingo to keep the rear projection TV until 2015?
I consider myself frugal. To me, that means I spend as little as possible for the things I want. At this stage in my life, I try not to sacrifice quality too much. When I was just starting out I would buy the super cheap cleaners that don’t really clean, or use an old threadbare towel instead of a real bath mat. These days, if I want something, I will buy it, but I’m going to spend as little as possible for it. I do this usually in several ways.
I try not to be as flexible in brand as possible. That way I’m free to do comparison shopping, and availability of coupons can factor into my decision. If I’m interested in something specific, then I’m at the mercy of the manufacturer to get a good deal. I don’t buy designer anything, and I usually stay away from brand names. Of course, this doesn’t always work. A while back I suspected Lily was trying to clone herself by shedding, so I really wanted a dyson animal.
I hold off on large purchases for Black Friday. Each year my husband and I make a list of things we would like to get/replace. We then check out the online websites that make deal shopping easier. Of course, that doesn’t always work. We’ve had a TV on our list for a few years. We did manage to get the Dyson at a substantial savings a few years ago. Lists can also help you avoid extraneous purchases on Black Friday. It doesn’t matter that a printer is 90% off, if you already have one that works just as well. Sales are great, but if you’re going to spend the same amount just on more stuff, you didn’t really save. Along similar lines, I tend to purchase everything in the off season. I buy summer clothes in fall, and winter clothes in spring. I saved 50% off my leather coat by waiting for the end of season sale.
If I don’t care about brand, I set a price in my head of what seems reasonable, and go looking. I tend to set my price low, and anything under that price that still has the amount of quality I’m looking for is good. For bath mats, I’m going to look for something super soft that’s in the right color range to not clash (I want to be cheap, I don’t want to look cheap). Solid colors for linens (and clothes) are easiest, since everyone carries them. Matching colors and coordinating looks always makes everything look more expensive.
I tend to avoid stores that price items outside what I consider reasonable. If you go, and you find something you like, you might feel compelled to open your purse strings a little more. If you never see that designer bath mat at Nordstrom’s, you’ll never miss it. I have a few staple stores, target, jcpenney, bed bath and beyond, etc, that fit the bill both in terms of quality and price. If the price is low enough that there’s no room for much savings, then it’s not worth the time and gas looking for the best possible price.
Being frugal means sometimes not using coupons. Today I had a $.10/per gallon coupon that I decided not to use. The nearest gas station I could use the coupon was roughly 10 miles round trip out of the way. It would have cost me about half a gallon of gas (my car gets roughly 20 mpg) at almost 4 dollars per gallon, for a total cost of just under $2. The problem is I have a fifteen gallon tank, so my savings would be $1.50. Using the coupon would have cost me more.
Being frugal means understanding sometimes a sale isn’t always a sale. I find this to be especially true from stores who have constant sales. While the goal of the shopper may be to save money, the goal of the store is to make money. If it can’t make money off an item, there’s a good chance the store will decide to stop selling it. So if a store has a perpetual sale for the item, you can bet the price is marked-up enough for the store to still profit from the sale. Of course, there are exceptions such as printers and ink. Printers are loss leaders. Stores typically loses money on the sale of printers, knowing they’ll make up for the loss in spades with the sale of ink.
Being frugal means not trusting the percentage off numbers. Today, I saved 44% on my grocery bill. Well, not really. I had a welcome-to-the-neighborhood type coupon for $10 off so I legitimately saved 17.4% (the total bill was $57.38 before the savings). The other 27% is a bit misleading. I typically go with the cheapest item, especially on baking things like flour, butter, sugar. Most often that’s the store brand, but sometimes the name brand is on sale. My receipt may say I saved $1.49 on peanut butter, but had the name brand not been on sale, I would have bought the store brand, which would have been a difference of maybe $0.70. So in actuality I saved about half of what my receipt is claiming.
Of course, I don’t always get the best possible deal. When this happens, I often find it really hard not to get caught up in the numbers. If I bought something on sale for 20% off, and find it for sale 30% off the next week, I feel frustrated with myself. To put it in sports terms, that’s like scoring a field goal only to have the opposing team run the ball back for a touchdown. Yes, I got the 3 points, but comparatively I’m still down.