Sign says ‘sale,’ but don’t go by that

Black Friday is poised to start on Thanksgiving this year. Is the annual retail salesfest encroaching too far on the American institutions of family and football that usually mark Turkey Day?

Some retailers have been steadily taking Thanksgiving away from employees by starting the sales earlier and earlier over the last couple of years. Kmart was the first to do this several years ago by opening on Thanksgiving. Now others such as Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are following suit.

Target will open stores at 9 .m. on Thanksgiving for Black Friday sales. But they’re being bested by Sears and Walmart, both of which will open at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, retailers used to get upset when copies of their Black Friday ads leaked out on the web. Today, however, they strategically leak them to websites such as DealNews.com, BlackFriday.info, GottaDeal.com and BFAds.net, among others.

Walmart in particular will be selling 60-inch LED TVs at $599 and a 15.6-inch laptop for $179 this year.

But there’s one thing to beware of no matter which store you shop: There will be a lot of “high-low” pricing this shopping season.

With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, we get mesmerized by the word “sale” at retailers of all different kinds. But is that “sale” really a deal or not?

A lot of merchandise sold in the gift departments of stores is brought in specifically to be sale merchandise. It’s not normally stocked by the retailer. It’s brought in with an inflated price marked on it that is then marked off 60 or 70 percent.

That’s not a real sale. It will not be bargain priced, though you will see signs everywhere screaming about sales. You have to know the quality and even the brand of what you’re buying before you get suckered in.

Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com.

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