What The Tech? Early Black Friday Shopping

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:59 PM EST
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still a couple of weeks away but that isn’t stopping online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and others from launching Black Friday sales and deals.

Most shoppers though probably wonder, are these real Black Friday deals or just another marketing ploy?

Should I wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving or are these items really at their lowest price?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure?

A couple of tools can at least help you make an educated guess.

One I use whenever I shop at Amazon is www.camelcamelcamel.com This site is not affiliated with Amazon but tracks prices and can even show prices for items since they first went on sale. This allows the shopper to hedge their bets on what is actually a real deal.

For example, many Black Friday deals aren’t as big of a deal as you’re led to believe. Searching Amazon’s Black Friday Deals page I found dozens of items advertised as being 25% to 75% off the regular price. At first glance, you might think now is the time to pull the trigger.

What Amazon and sellers don’t want you to know is that the price of many items spike just before the holiday sales so they can be advertised as being on sale. Using camelcamelcamel, I searched for a Sous Vide cooker and found one marked down 27% during the Black Friday sale. But camel showed that the price spiked to its highest price ever just before the sale began. I also saw that today’s sales price is the same as it is most days and that earlier this year it was actually $12 less than during the Black Friday sale.

The price may go back down. A Bissell vacuum cleaner is advertised as being on sale for $100. Skeptical, I searched camel again and found it truly is at its lowest price by about $40. Camelcamelcamel.com also shows prices from 3rd party retailers. It’s also only for tracking prices at Amazon and there isn’t a smartphone app. There is a browser extension for Chrome, so when shopping on a computer, just click on the Camel browser extension to see the price history. No copying and pasting of the URL.

If you do most of your shopping at Amazon and on a smartphone there is a shopping app called Keepa that is similar to camelcamelcamel with price histories that help you decide what’s really a sale and what’s not. Honey is another online tool that combs the internet for coupons and discount codes. Honey is from PayPal so you can make purchases with your PayPal account easily. I don’t have a lot of luck with coupons and discount codes but that may just be for the items and retailers I’m shopping.

Your experience may be different especially if you feel comfortable shopping at online retailers other than the big 5 (Amazon, BestBuy, Target, Walmart, and Lowes). Google also just introduced a shopping tool when you’re searching for items.

Look for it in the search results, you may need to tap or click “shopping” and choose the “On Sale” filter to see where the item is currently priced as being on sale.

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