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Heading out to find deals on Black Friday? Here are 5 things to know

From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, an estimated 166.3 million people are expected to shop, according to an annual survey.
Signs at Kohl's on Elston Avenue in Chicago on Wednesday alert shoppers to Black Friday sales.
Signs at Kohl's on Elston Avenue in Chicago on Wednesday alert shoppers to Black Friday sales. [ TERRENCE ANTONIO JAMES | Chicago Tribune ]
Published Nov. 23|Updated Nov. 23

Shoppers this year have continued the trend of checking off their lists well before the holidays, but that doesn’t mean people won’t be out looking for deals on Black Friday in a year when many items cost more.

From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, an estimated 166.3 million people are expected to shop, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. For Black Friday, 114.9 million are planning to spend.

That’s even with 60% of shoppers having started on their lists by early November.

“While consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, some of that spending has shifted into October,” said Phil Rist, Prosper executive vice president of strategy, in a news release. “This year, 18% of holiday shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it is up from only 11% a decade ago.”

Here’s five things to know for those looking to hunt deals on Black Friday:

Inflation could cut savings: The federal government’s Consumer Price Index was up 7.7% for the year ending in October. Those higher prices have effected shoppers at the grocery store for much of the year, but also might cut into holiday savings.

Higher prices could mean even a good deal isn’t actually cheaper than a year ago, said Anand Krishnamoorthy, an associate professor of marketing at University of Central Florida.

For instance, an $80 item last year with a 10% discount would have cost $72. If this year that same item costs $100 because of inflation, a 20% discount would only get it down to $80.

“If the topline prices before the discount are much higher because of inflation, you would need a significantly deeper discount to get to the sale prices of years past,” Krishnamoorthy said.

People still shop in person: Despite early and online shopping, people still plan to hit the stores on Black Friday.

Out of the 114.9 million expected Black Friday customers, 67% plan to actually go to stores, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up from 64% last year.

Krishnamoorthy said in person Black Friday shopping is about the social experience. The coronavirus pandemic is also unlikely to be a big factor this year in deterring bargain hunters.

“Shopping online is just not the same kick,” Krishnamoorthy said. “It doesn’t have the same kick as going to a store and finding the deal.”

Deals to be had: At Target, shoppers can buy a Xbox Series S Console, usually at $299.99, and get $50 off and a $50 gift card. LEGO toys there will be up to 40% off.

Those deals will be available this week, ending Nov. 26, online and in person, according to a news release.

Savings for Thanksgiving through Saturday include Beats Studio Buds marked down from $149.99 to $89.99, as well as 30% off jewelry.

“With more than one million items on sale, we’re offering our guests incredible value on the season’s must-have items, from exclusives like heyday and FAO Schwarz, to national brands like LEGO and Apple and only-at-Target items across apparel, home and food and beverage,” said Christina Hennington, executive vice president at Target, in the release.

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At Walmart, online deals have already started, but in store savings will start at 6 a.m. Friday.

Walmart’s website lists a Chefman Barista Pro Espresso Machine marked down from $139 to $99, an Apple Watch marked down from $279 to $149, and Apple AirPods discounted from $99.99 to $79.

Of course, shoppers can also check for deal advertisements in the Thanksgiving print edition of the Orlando Sentinel.

Last year’s supply chain woes aren’t a problem this year: While retailers faced limited supplies last year, that’s not expected to make headlines this time around.

“If anything, retailers are grappling with excess inventory,” said Krishnamoorthy.

Last year, Colonial Photo & Hobby in Orlando, Florida’s Mills 50 neighborhood only had about half of the train sets it needed for the holiday shopping season.

But owner Steve Rausch said earlier this month his business wasn’t having those same supply chain problems this year, even though some cameras are still hard to get.

There are other times to land savings: Shoppers who are worried about the state of the economy or higher prices might also be able to find items on sale at another time.

While toys under the Christmas tree need to be bought now, televisions and furniture savings can wait, said Krishnamoorthy.

“There are many different times of the year when these can be had on sale,” Krishnamoorthy said. “The week of Thanksgiving is not the only time.”

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