Cromwell, CT - Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends consumers shop around before getting pulled into the frenzy of Black Friday specials that sound like bargains.
The end of Thanksgiving traditionally represented the beginning of the holiday shopping season, however, some retailers no longer wait to break out their Black Friday specials.
"Some of the would-be Black Friday specials are now offered in early November," according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. "In some cases, consumers can actually find better deals during other sales."
For example, a big screen television may be on sale for an irresistible price, but the quality may fall short of a different model or brand that is slightly more expensive. A smart phone or other electronic device may go on sale for a record low price on Black Friday, but that doesn't mean the price won't tumble even further as the end of the year approaches.
Better Business Bureau offers a checklist for holiday shopping:
Is the price really a good discount? - When a price tag says an item is being sold at a 20 percent discount, has the store inflated the original price of the merchandise to make the deal seem sweeter? Make sure that the discount is not 20 percent off the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) which is rarely the price merchants charge.
Check advertisements' terms and conditions - Some sale items may only be available in limited quantities or during certain hours of the day. That can mean the only way to benefit from the discount is if you are at the front of the lineup outside the store.
Read the return policy - Make sure that you understand whether you will be able to exchange or return an item that is not what you expected. This is also important to keep in mind in the event you find a better deal on the same or similar merchandise later in the season.
Protect yourself online - A credit card provides the highest level of protection against fraud. Before entering payment information, look for "https" in your browser address window, as well as a padlock icon. These indicate the website is taking measures to secure your transaction.
Get the most for your money by keeping in mind that you may find better deals after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Before heading out to the mall or going online, it is helpful to make a list of what you need to buy and what you'd like to buy.
You can avoid busting your budget by deciding what you need to buy as opposed to what you want to buy based on an advertised discount. On the other hand, if you like what you see and the price is right, go for it.