Did you know that stores are now releasing multiple ads during the month of November for Black Friday?  Gone are the days of retailers releasing a single ad for the Friday after Thanksgiving that topped out at 35-40 pages.  We now have pre-Black Friday ads, Holiday ads, Toy Book ads, Thanksgiving ads, Cyber Monday ads, and wouldn’t be surprised if stores release post-Black Friday ads this year.  Some of these come close to 100 pages and may have conflicting and confusing information.  As the staff at BestBlackFriday.com has to occasionally read them multiple times to get a grasp of the sale offered, we can only imagine the headaches that the average shopper experiences.  We decided to break down how we go through the ads so you can quickly and efficiency select the right deals for you.

1. What kind of ad is it? –  The first thing that you always want to look for in the ad is the date.  In past years, this wasn’t’ really necessary as it was assumed that every sale was on Black Friday.  Now you will see dates as early as late October until Christmas!  While these holiday ads aren’t “Black Friday” per say, they are in the same ad format and stores push them as such.  As Thanksgiving and Black Friday are starting to merge into the same day, make sure you differentiate between the dates.  Some stores have separate Thanksgiving Day ads and sales while other stores actually have their Black Friday sale begin on Thanksgiving and run through the night.  Even the holiday, toy book, and pre-Black Friday ads can run as high as 80 pages or more so don’t use length as a determining factor.

2.  What time is the sale? – Unless the store in question has no idea what they are doing, the hours will be right at the top of the first page of the ad scan.  While we have seen this information absent in years past, retailers seem to be getting better at clearly labeling when their hours are.  A few things to look out for:

  • What time their doors open?
  • What time their sales end?
  • What time their doorbusters begin and end?
  • What time their store closes?

While points 2,3, and 4 may sound the same, they are actually different many times.  For example, a store could open at 6:00 AM, run their doorbusters from 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM, end their general sale at 5:00 PM and close their store at 8:00 PM.  It is important that you know these hours so the items that you want are available at the price you want.

3.  Doorbusters – To get you excited, stores will generally put the majority if not all of their doorbusters on the 1st page of the ad.  Look out for the price and compare it online to other retailers to see how the price stacks up.  More often than not, it will be cheaper than other stores but sometimes you can find it for the same or an even better price at discount retailers.  You also want to look out for the quantity.  If a store is offering $500 off on a HP laptop, everyone is going to want it.  If each store is only carrying 5 of them, it may be extremely difficult for you to get your hands on one so you may be better off targeting a less popular item.

You should also read all of the small print to see what you are getting.  Sometimes doorbusters are stripped down versions and really are not worth it.  A usual high performance computer may be discounted because it has less ram, a smaller hard drive, and no accessories.  Always look at the doorbuster as a whole and decide if it is really worth it.

4. Coupons – Many ads will contain coupons and it is anyone’s guess where they will appear.  We have seen them anywhere from the first page all the way to the last page.  They even sometimes randomly appear in the middle pages of the ad.  They are sometimes general coupons such as “save $10 on all orders over $50” and “save 15% off all orders over $75”.  Other coupons may be for a specific item or item category.  Make sure you thoroughly sort through the ad to ensure that you find every coupon.  Some items require a coupon and you won’t be able to take advantage of that particular sale without it.

5. Online vs Offline – This one is pretty store dependent.  Some retailers will include their online sales in their regular ad while others will release a separate ad for online only sales.  It is important to always be aware of where the sale is taking place as many doorbusters and deals are offline or online exclusive.

Good luck!

Originally published here. For more info, please visit BestBlackFriday.com