For the uninitiated, navigating through stores on Black Friday can be a nightmare. But what if there's a Black Friday doorbuster you simply must have? Is navigating through throngs of frenzied shoppers your only alternative? As professional deal hunters, we're here to show you how to increase your chances of getting that super deal, and more importantly — how to decide if it's even worth the time and effort in the first place.
To clarify: The term "doorbusters" is used a lot during the holidays, especially on Black Friday, and refers to ultra-cheap items that brick-and-mortar stores sell to lure shoppers into their stores. This year we're noticing more name-brand doorbusters — Best Buy has two great TV deals that come to mind — but the majority will still be off-brand items, so quality-wise, these products aren't going to win any awards. But when it comes to pricing, these goods are as discounted as they come. And the good news is, not all doorbusters require setting up camp in the cold. But if you're inclined to do so, here's how to maximize your chances of scoring a doorbuster deal.
Research the Doorbusters Beforehand
If you're attempting to snag the cream-of-the-crop doorbuster deals, then you'll have to choose wisely; while there may be time to secure multiple items during your trip, your best opportunity to get any limited-stock deals will be in the first few moments of the store opening. So make sure you know your store's Black Friday hours beforehand and know when the item you want will go on sale. Most, if not all, Black Friday sales will start on Thanksgiving day, while others will kick off at the start of the week. To help you distinguish which doorbusters are worth pursuing, check out our Black Friday ad analyses.
Turn to Social Media for Deal Reveals
While many stores will post some choice deals in their Black Friday ads, in order to drum up hype well before the event, many retailers will have some last minute deals to reveal the week of. This is especially true if a store feels that it's being outshone by its competitors. A good way to find such timely offers is through store social media channels like Facebook or Twitter. This year we've even seen retailers turn to Vine. The immediacy of social media will make it an ideal forum for last minute offers.
Be Prepared to Wait
Once you know what doorbuster deal you're after, it's time to think strategy. Unfortunately, there's no hard and fast rule for when you should arrive at a store in order to be one of the lucky few to get a limited-quantity doorbuster. According to our own experiences at suburban brick-and-mortar stores, you can generally show up about two hours early to get the most highly-anticipated doorbusters.That said, there are always the people who decide to camp out for days weeks.
Luckily, this tactic doesn't seem to happen en masse, though you can easily tell if it's getting out of hand with a simple, advanced drive-by. It may be a bummer to see that there's already an unruly line outside of your preferred store, but at least you can assess whether shopping in-store on Black Friday will be a waste of time in advance.
Be First in Line
Even if you are one of those shoppers who camps outside a store for three consecutive nights and are number 10 in line, that doesn't guarantee you'll get that doorbuster deal you've been waiting for. While it's true that we expect to see more guaranteed doorbusters this year, other doorbuster deals will remain limited-stock items and stores will likely only carry five (or perhaps fewer) of said item. The one absolute rule we can say about Black Friday doorbusters is that if you're not first in line, don't expect to get the deal you're after.
Manage Your Expectations
Again, because retailers typically stock a limited supply of doorbusters per location, your chances of walking out of a store with one are slim. Even with the rise of the guaranteed doorbuster, you'll still have to return to the store sometime before Christmas to pick up your item. Ultimately, the chances of a doorbuster selling out are very high. As a result, all shoppers should manage their expectations, so that if there are no doorbusters left to be had, shopping in-store doesn't end up feeling like a major disappointment.
Get a Doorbuster Deal Online
While there's no guarantee that every doorbuster will make its way online, we typically see extremely similar discounts and doorbusters from online merchants during Black Friday. Amazon in particular likes to undercut competitors throughout the weekend. In fact, in previous years we've noticed that 70% of in-store deals were available online for the same price or less. Of course, if there's one specific in-store item that you must have, hoping that it'll be online is a gamble (albeit one in which the odds are in your favor).
Don't Become a Victim to the Doorbuster Hype
The bottom line is: Doorbusters are bait. They're designed to get you in-store so that retailers can sell you a host of other less-discounted (and sometimes overpriced) accessories. Just remember, if you are lucky enough to snag a doorbuster, don't spend your savings on a $100 HDMI cable, extended warranty, or other astronomically expensive accessory. Make a list of the item(s) you want to buy and stick to it. Notably, most accessories can be found online at much cheaper prices than what you'd pay in-store. Remember, not every deal you see on Black Friday is a good deal.
Now that you have an idea of what it takes to score a doorbuster you can relax a bit. You're prepared! But, if you're still unsure of whether or not you should shop in-store for doorbusters on Black Friday, check out our helpful flow chart below.
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