Black Friday is always one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In fact, retailers tend to offer tons of bargains to entice shoppers to spend the post-Thanksgiving hours binging on buying after binging on turkey.
But while the deals may seem good, it's important to be careful about what you buy. Retailers try all sorts of tricks to get you to open your wallet and hand over your credit cards -- and not all of the promotions that stores offer are as good as they appear at first glance.
In fact, here are four ways stores aim to get you to part with your hard-earned dollars.
1. Encouraging early shopping
Black Friday is no longer just one shopping day after Thanksgiving. Instead, stores try to stretch out the Black Friday madness for weeks. Many started offering deals in mid-November, while others will even encourage you to shop on Thanksgiving Day.
These stores advertise these early bargains as "Black Friday Deals," even though they take place before the official day in hopes they'll get your dollars before competitors do.
Unfortunately, by buying too early, you give up the chance to comparison shop. And when stores offer deals for a limited time only, you may be tempted to act quickly and make a purchase you otherwise wouldn't have. If you head out shortly after Thanksgiving dinner to get the deals in person, you could also miss out on valuable family time.
2. Advertising great prices but having limited quantities
Most everyone is familiar with the special Black Friday deals that appear to be unbelievable bargains. Typically, they involve electronics or other in-demand items at a fraction of retail value. The only problem is, the store may have just a few of them in stock.
Not only does this lead to disasters (including people fighting over items in the aisles), but it also winds up causing many people to waste time trying to score deals that only a few will be able to take advantage of.
Why do retailers do this? In the hopes that once you're at their store anyway, you'll splurge on other items. You might not be able to get that $1,000 TV for $300, but the store is banking on the fact you'll pick up a more expensive TV -- or perhaps an on-sale tablet or gaming device -- since you're there anyway.
3. Passing off inexpensive items as more costly counterparts
Those unbelievable bargains mentioned above sometimes actually allow you to get a costly product at a great price -- if you're one of the first through the door. But in other situations, retailers will market scaled-down versions of in-demand items for low prices and hope you don't notice the difference.
Often, these devices look very similar to their costlier counterparts and even have almost the same model number. But they may be lacking certain features that come with the pricier model. For example, there may be two different versions of the same TV with model numbers just one letter or number apart -- but one may cost a lot less because it has lower resolution.
Don't be fooled by these low-priced models masquerading as Black Friday deals, or you could end up disappointed. Instead, carefully research any product you're considering to fully understand its features and functionality.
4. Extra discounts to encourage further spending
Finally, some retailers offer discounts in the form of store gift cards or bonus "bucks" to use on later purchases. For example, the store may advertise that if you buy a particular brand of tablet, you'll get a $50 gift card; or if you spend $50, you'll get $10 in bonus bucks to spend later.
While these types of incentives can make you feel like you're getting a bargain, often the purpose is to get you back into the store later. When you return, you'll inevitably make a purchase with your gift card or bonus bucks -- and very likely will spend more out of pocket on that purchase.
Unless you're getting these types of incentives at a store you'd genuinely shop at for essentials on a regular basis, this type of "deal" can just lead you to overspend on unnecessary items.
Be smart about your holiday spending
If you're like most Americans, chances are good you already feel a lot of pressure to spend to make the season festive. Don't let these retailer tricks on Black Friday prompt you to waste your precious holiday dollars on items that may only be a disappointment in the end.