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BBB Offers Shopping Advice for Staying Out of the Red on Black Friday

Despite inflation and availability concerns, the National Retail Federation’s annual prediction of holiday shopping predicts there will be an increase of 6% to 8% over last year’s sales. By now you are seeing the ads trumpeting price reductions, special store hours and limited quantities. Stores are offering earlier discounts every year as they try to compete with the ever-growing online competition. The deals and promotions began in October and will only increase as we near the holidays. If you are among the many this year who will jump into the Black Friday fray, your Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some advice to make it more worthwhile.

Tips to avoid a “Red Friday”

Spending and owing more money than you bring in is called being in the red. Millions of Americans are in that category, and once you are there, it isn’t easy to get out. Black Friday is named after the figurative day that a retailer’s sales finally put their business “in the black,” meaning finally turning a profit for the year. But if you are not a smart consumer, the day can turn into “Red Friday” for your finances. Try these tips:

  • Know your budget, make a plan — and stick to it. Take the time before Black Friday to inspect your financial situation. Consider all the other holiday expenses you might have: travel, charitable contributions, entertainment and decoration. Figure out how much you can spend on shopping and don’t vary from that amount. The excitement and distractions in the stores can dazzle and distract, until you are buying things you didn’t plan to. Remember your budget and stick to it.
  • Make the most of sale flyers and promotions. Remember that the small print is important, so don’t overlook it.
  • Do an online search for websites that promote Black Friday deals early and sign up for alerts to keep you in the know. Your favorite retailers will also have online sites and shopping apps through which you can sign up for email notifications of special deals.
  • Read product reviews on extremely discounted items. Sometimes there is a reason for the discount, such as inferiority.
  • Price-matching continues to grow in popularity among retailers. Check a store’s specific policy and be sure it isn’t suspended during Black Friday.
  • Check a retailer’s return policy: Is it money-back or store credit? Anything that is not spelled out specifically in writing should be inquired about.
  • Always get a gift receipt when buying for someone else and give it to them along with the gift.
  • Look up a store’s BBB business review at bbb.org, to view their marketplace history.

Small Business Saturday

Don’t overlook the day after Black Friday, designated as a time to support local, independent retailers. “Shopping Small” benefits the local economy and helps your community remain unique and attractive to visitors and residents alike. The special qualities that smaller, local stores have can make shopping with them more fun and less stressful. They can offer a more individualized shopping experience than the giant retailers have. Do an online search for “Small Business Saturday” to learn about your area’s special shopping day.

If you have questions or concerns regarding Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shopping, contact your Better Business Bureau at (800) 856-2417 or visit our website at BBB.org.  

ABOUT BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviewsdispute resolution servicesalerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit BBB.org for more information.

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