This past week, shoppers were treated to quite a few tricks in terms of Black Friday branding. We noticed that several stores released "Black Friday ads" that, upon closer review, didn't appear to actually include any true Black Friday deals at all, in that they didn't apply to the big week in question.
This certainly wouldn't be the first year that we've seen the Black Friday verbiage expanded to include sales that sprout up throughout November, but the ad announcements definitely further obscure the difference between lead-up promotions and "official" Black Friday deals.
Since these sales may look and feel like Black Friday deals, but are specifically designed to create hype, it's worth discussing whether these promotions are worth your attention. The short answer? Early Black Friday sales are an excellent strategy for retailers, but consumers should be very wary.
Black November Has Arrived
Retailers want consumers to spend throughout the season, not just during Black Friday week itself. As a result, stores like Newegg, Office Max, Amazon, and Walmart have started the month aggressively with sales that scream urgency. Last week, for example, Newegg launched its Black November Sale with a list of deals you can purchase now. But despite even the presence of an official "ad" release, many of these deals will actually expire before Thanksgiving even arrives.
It is possible to find some solid deals within these sales; Office Max, for instance, is currently offering its best percent-off/free shipping combo coupon (albeit with major exclusions), and Walmart offered an exceptional 48" TV deal yesterday (now expired). But the majority of the deals are either mediocre, or are expected to get much better soon.
Good Deals Today, Editors' Choice Deals Tomorrow
The issue then isn't whether these deals are any good, but whether or not they will be better in the coming weeks. And in fact, our research indicates that many items you buy today will likely be discounted again, with greater savings, by the same or similar retailers in the coming weeks. The number of Editors' Choice deals that we find increases seven-fold on Thanksgiving Day, for example, when compared to the average day in November. As such, it's a fairly safe bet that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday will ring in lower prices than the majority of the deals you're seeing in these early sales.
That said, we do sometimes see true Black Friday deals released earlier than advertised, especially if a competitor decides to price match in advance of the big day. But that sort of tit-for-tat price adjustment strategy doesn't usually come until the week before, at the earliest.