Canadians looking for deals on Black Friday beware: report

A customer walks through a store in Toronto's Eaton Centre, on Friday November 29, 2013 as retailers offer cut price deals to lure business and kick start the seasonal shopping. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

With an apparent abundance of bargains, this time of year has become one of the busiest for retailers in Canada and the U.S. But thanks to a new report, shoppers are being warned to think twice about the ‘Black Friday’ deals.

According to a report released by Vancity Credit Union today, some of the so-called ‘door crasher’ sale prices are actually inflated in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. And in fact, those low prices are actually the original retail price or a small markdown.

The credit union commissioned the report to better understand the shopping phenomenon in Canada and how to equip people to make informed buying decisions. Out of 400 people surveyed, about one-third bought items at a Black Friday sale and 94 per cent of the shoppers believed the prices are lower compared to the rest of the year.

But the reality, according to the report, is there is often a very narrow range of discounts that may not be especially good deals, and strategies are put into place to create a false sense of urgency to buy and make rash decisions.

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So what’s a savvy shopper to do with Black Friday sales a mere few days away?

Do the research: Before making a purchase, especially on a big ticket item, find the best price, use deal websites and apps, bring a smartphone and get advice from friends in the know about products.

Time it right: shop before and after Black Friday and do not limit your research to sale days. Make sure to check return policies and keep your receipts.

Think it through: Think twice before buying multiples and do not get caught up in the deal.

Understand trends for different types of products: It’s suggest that consumers buy toys and luxury goods closer to Christmas, buy winter apparel and bed linens in the New Year and watch out for look-alike electronics.

“We’re not saying that good deals can’t be found on Black Friday, but you need to be shopping for final price, not the savings,” said Mohamed Ladak, vice-president of payment solutions for Vancity.

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