The Truth about Black Friday Sales


The truth about Black Friday? Black Friday has morphed into Black November, and retailers - both traditional and online, begin running their Black Friday deals on November 1st. That’s right - as soon as you finally hit the bed after a fright filled night of collecting candy from your neighbors, retailers are gearing up to relieve you of your holiday shopping budgets.

Be sure to look at our Black Friday Ad Scans and Deals Page

Questioning Black Friday

Still, many shoppers assume every Black Friday deal is awesome; but is the listed merchandise truly a hot deal? Should you wake up early and battle the throngs of consumers standing in line at your favorite store? Are these sales really limited time deals, or can better pricing be had at other times?

To answer these questions, we dug deep into last year’s Black Friday deals to see if the deals were really as good as advertised. For instance, was there a deal offered later in the year that beat Black Friday’s pricing? Is there a reason to give into the hype?

Recycling Deals

Many retailers “recycle” Black Friday ads and do not change deal pricing on some products from year to year. While this might make sense if their inventory levels are high, consumers have come to expect deeper discounts each year on a wider variety of products.

In fact, the opposite is true -  a recent study found that 92% of stores had Black Friday “doorbuster” deals that existed the previous last year. The same study found retailers would often try to trick consumers on Black Friday with knockoff deals, shady rebate offers, and misleading original prices. The upshot? Use a website like BuyVia to compare prices before shopping - a little homework can really pay off in the end.

Where did the Doorbuster come from?

The doorbuster is a limited time super cheap deal designed get shoppers into the store. They are often available early in the morning and sell out almost immediately. More organized stores hand out vouchers to those in line to prevent mass hysteria from occurring from when the doors open up.

Doorbusters have been around far longer Black Friday. These "loss leaders" first appeared in an ad in August 1917 for Killian's Department store: "Wednesday's 8 o'clock doorbusters"

A bargain item was sold at a tiny fraction of its regular price. This brought in the crowds long before the store opened. Other stores in Iowa continued this tradition throughout the 1920's.

Some Black Friday Deal examples from 2015:

iphone 5s

Hottest Deals

Apple Black Friday 2015 Deals

Although Apple offered free gift cards with the purchase of select products - iPad Air 2 ($75), iPad Mini 4 ($50), Walmart and Target both had way better gift cards available on the same day. Target esd  offering a free $150 gift card with an iPad Air 2. The same thing happened in 2014.

So - one would think the best strategy for Apple products in 2014 is to ditch the Apple store in favor of major retailers? Maybe, but better deals showed up just 14 days after Black Friday - with deeper discounts and zero sales tax. And finally, Apple did not even offer a sale on CyberMonday.


Gap Extra 50% Off Sale

Gap Black Friday 2015 Sales

Gap has a “50% off Everything” sale in 2015. The later had many other sales of the type Save up to 50% off plus an extra 40% off. These were better on the select sale items, but the 50% off was a lot better on generate merchandise.

 Black Friday Apple Product Deals

iPad Air 2 from Best Buy $100 - $125 off. Better than Apple plus it is a real discount.

Free Target Gift Card with iPad Mini 4 ($100), iPad Mini 2 ($80), iPad Air 2 ($150), or Apple Watch ($100) - These were better than Apple and were not matched until well into 2016.

Staples had an iPad Air 2 64GB $449 ($599) Apply Visa Checkout $25 off = $424. A stellar price

Also an iPad Mini 4 16GB $299 ($399), much better than a gift card.

Target had Apple TV 25% off - New 2015 version $149.25 ($199) - Also a very good price, not matched until 2016.

Black Friday Tablet/E-Readers Deals

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in 8GB Tablet from Best Buy - $34.99 – Cheaper than Amazon until 2016.

Target had a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7 16GB Tablet $229 ($299) Free $30 Gift Card. A very good price not matched for 6 months.

Black Friday Laptop Deals

Best Buy had a Dell Inspiron 15.6 Touchscreen Laptop Core i3 8GB/1TB Windows 10 $299.99 free shipping. A solid price even to this day.

Staples had very good laptop deals which sold out quickly. Each of these 3 deals were not equalled until mid 2016.

HP 14-ab166us 14" Laptop Intel Core i3 6GB 750GB Windows 10 $299.99 after $50 rebate. ($599)

Toshiba C55-C5380 15.6" Laptop Intel Core i5 8GB 750GB Windows 10 $399.99 after $250 rebate.

Toshiba C55-C5381 15.6" Laptop Intel Core i7 8GB 1TB Windows 10 $499.99 after $250 rebate.

Preowned Xbox 360 S 250GB Console w/Kinect Sale

Black Friday Video Game Deals

Near everyone was selling a PS4 Uncharted bundle for $299.99, save $50. This was beaten only after 5 months.

Xbox One $299 bundles were all over the place. The best deals from Microsoft, threw in a $60 gift code and game.  Nothing equalled this.

These deals can be of good value, if and only if you like the bundled games. The prices of these holiday bundles held steady, probably due to minimum advertised pricing restrictions. On the other hand, there are plenty of video games on sale, making this a great time to buy software.

Black Friday HDTV Deals


Target Doorbuster Thursday: Westinghouse 32 LED HDTV $99.99 ($189) sold out fast and is just now being beat.

Best Buy Doorbuster Thursday: Toshiba 49L310U 49in 1080p HDTV $149.99 ($429.99) In store only. - Very cheap and still not beat.

Target Doorbuster Thursday: Element 43 LED HDTV $169.99 ($199) - Still not beat

Target Doorbuster Thursday: Westinghouse 55in 1080p 60Hz LCD HDTV DWM55F1G1 $249.99 ($599) (15830724) - Still not beat

Sears Doorbuster Thursday: RCA 40" Class 1080p 60Hz Rear-Lit LED HDTV $269 ($350) - Price beat after 6 months.

TVs were a bright spot for 2015 Black Friday.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Unlocked Smartphone

Black Friday Smartphone Deals

Best Buy Thursday Doorbusters: $250 Gift Card with Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ plus they are on sale Verizon, Sprint, AT&T - With installment plan. A great deal and not really matched for 6 month.

Walmart in store: $100 savings, $100 Gift Card on any iPhone. AT&T Next Plan or Verizon Device Payment. Was a decent deal, but equalled in early 2016.

Camera Deals

Go pro HERO4 Silver Action Camera $80 Gift Card, 64GB Memory Card $399.99 ($500) - Very good at the time.

We can see from the sample hot deals from Black Friday that most deals are good, but if missed, often come back around quickly.  No need to fret.

Sometimes items are one off that are brought in for holidays. Video game bundles and cheap console games are a good bet during Black Friday.

Black Friday is No Longer the Best Sale of the Year

As we have shown, similar or better deals can be had throughout the year. So what’s the point of Black Friday?

We at Buyvia still believe Black Friday can save you money - but you have to set your expectations. If you expect to find the lowest possible price of the year on your favorite items, you are in for a disappointment. But if you are looking for good deals on your holiday list, Black Friday is still a great way to save money.

If you are looking for the best possible price on specific items, do your research. Often web based retailers will trump their retail competition because they pass the decreased cost of overhead onto their consumers. For the best possible deals, sign up here to receive personal deal alerts from Buyvia.

Do you have a comment or a different experience with Black Friday?

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One response to “The Truth about Black Friday Sales”

  1. Elly says:

    This is both street smart and intelligent.

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