SAN ANTONIO — The best deals no longer last just one day.
Many of us know Black Friday as the top deal day of the year, but with ongoing supply chain issues we'll likely see less stock and fewer discounts.
“Cyber Monday and Black Friday traditionally are the start of the holiday shopping season, but that's completely changed this year,” said Kristin McGrath, editor of deal site RetailMeNot.com. “Consider them almost your last chance.”
“There are going to be people who are convinced that, even though Target and Best Buy and Walmart are all having early sales, those best deals will be on Black Friday,” added Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst for Dealnews.com. “Probably not.”
Shop selectively now, because items are likely to go out of stock quickly.
“I’m as inclined as anyone to put these things off. I see something good and I’ll think about that for a while and see whether that’s really the right thing to do,” said Phil Levy, chief economist for Flexport, a company specializing in shipping logistics. "The usual presumption behind that is if, 'I wait and somebody else buys it, well, they’re just going to grab another one out of the back and restock.'
"The problem we’re having right now is often the back is empty. They wanted to have those inventories; they don’t have those inventories. If you put that off and it’s gone, it may stay gone. That shelf may stay empty. Act now.”
“Start looking early,” McGrath added. “That doesn’t mean go out and panic-buy everything, things you need and things you don’t. It just means start looking at prices, making your list. Now, if you see something that’s a big priority to you to get this year, whether it’s a gift for someone or something you’ve been trying to get for yourself, and it goes on sale early, feel good about getting it because there’s going to be a lot of shortages this year and supply chain issues and shipping delays.”
You can also protect your pocketbook by purchasing from retailers with a generous price-adjustment policy.
“Especially those retailers that are offering price protection, like Target and Best Buy, are two of the main ones that offer price protection for consumers so that they can potentially get the price matched if it drops lower later,” said Nathan Burrows, deals editor for Wirecutter.
Make your money go further with cash-back and reward programs.
“Target has a great rewards program called Target Circle,” said McGrath. “Get 1% back on practically everything. Kohl's offers Kohl's cash with select purchases during certain times. Spend them later on future shopping trips.”
RetailMeNot.com is also running its cash-back promotion days Thursday and Friday, offering 48 hours of elevated cash-back opportunities for more than 1,000 merchants.
“There are some offers out there for 15%, 20% cash-back at certain retailers,” McGrath said. “So, when you come to our site and shop through RetailMeNot and click through those offers, you get cash back. That cash-back is actual cash. You can redeem it through PayPal and Vemno and use it for whatever you want later on.”
Look to see if a local store has an item available through curbside pickup if you are struggling to find it through a retailer’s website. Just double-check it is truly in stock.
“You can call and, hopefully, if you have a representative that is helpful, that they can even go and secure that item and put it on hold for at the customer service desk. You’ll have the opportunity to go in and pick it up,” Burrow said. “Certainly, we recommend verifying, especially, you know, those stocks online are not always as accurate as we’d like them to be.”
Or, save yourself the shopping hassle and get a gift that is always in stock.
“E-books are in great shape,” said Ramhold. “You know, digital gift cards are always a solid option because you can pick your store that you want to gift from and just send a digital gift card to your recipient over their email, and they can shop whenever with it.”
She also suggested shopping at more local, small businesses this year.
“It may end up being the only way you have a physical gift to wrap and hand to someone by the time Christmas rolls around,” Ramhold said.
Still, you can expect great deals on Black Friday. Just know they may be limited.
“Consumers need to know, especially for those Black Friday deals, there’s going to be limited supply behind those,” McGrath said. “You might see a best of all time price this year, but that will sell out really quickly online.”
Hunt for gifts now, and save Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a second chance to get items on sale.
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