By: Theresa Agovino | Moneywatch
November 24, 2016
(CBS News) -- Note to holiday bargain shoppers: Think twice before showing up when the doors open at retailers on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, and consider opening the laptop instead. Increasingly, low-priced bait like $20 down jackets or deeply discounted electronics that retailers dangle to lure customers into stores can be purchased while cuddling up on a couch with a computer.
“Years ago the door-busters were never online. Now pretty much everything is online,” said Melissa Martin, a spokesperson for BlackFriday.com, a consumer site that compiles retailer ads and offers tools to find lower prices. “Jump on laptop and put everything in your basket and then hit the submit button when the sales start.”
This year, Kohl’s (KSS) will be putting its door-buster sales online for the first time. These sales -- usually 50 percent off the retail price -- are available only for a designated time or until supplies last. Those who are truly desperate for a cheap computer may want to go to a store to avoid competing with millions of other bargain hunters online.
Computers, TVs and tablets can be discounted between 20 percent and 40 percent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s a catch: Those items are most likely to be out of stock online during that time period, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
Some retailers will offer in-store only sales. Toys R Us has a whole selection of discounted merchandise that will be up for grabs only to those who brave its brick-and-mortar locations on Thanksgiving Day. The Black Friday deals, however, will be available online beginning on Wednesday evening. Bon-Ton (BONT) is already offering door-buster deals online that won’t be available in stores until Thanksgiving.
Shoppers still largely prefer the hustle and bustle and tactile experience of going into stores. Consumers will spend only 18 percent of their estimated $656 billion in holiday shopping online, according to the National Retail Federation.
You should keep some tricks in mind regardless of where you purchase gifts. The holiday weekend brings a slew of attractive deals on clothing, yet prices on sweaters, coats, scarfs and such tend to fall even further has the season goes on.
Read the fine print. Some of the best advertised prices on items such as kitchen appliances require sending in a receipt for a manufacturer’s rebate. Lose the receipt, lose the discount.
BlackFriday.com’s Martin noted that shoppers may want to check out Kohl’s. From Nov. 21 to Nov. 26, shoppers will receive $15 in “Kohl’s Cash” for every $50 they spend. The money must be spent at a Kohl’s store between Nov. 27 and Dec. 5, however.
The avalanche of ads promising super-low prices is enough to make some would-be gift buyers write a letter to Santa, down spiked egg nog and hope for the best. There’s help. Download your favorite stores’ apps because they offer special discounts at a place you already shop. Consider downloading Flipp, an app that aggregates coupons and sales circulars.
Sites like BlackFriday.com and Dealnews.com offer centralized and updated information about store hours, promotions and sales. BlackFriday.com has a “wish list” feature that will alert you when items you want go on sale. Ebates.com offers shoppers rebates for going though it to buy merchandise at other retailers.
Saving money can be hard work, but if you do it right, it’s well worth the effort.