Shopping on Black Friday? BBB gives advice on how to get the ‘real deal’

ID-100196312The biggest shopping weekend of the year is upon us and retailers are making big promises with Thanksgiving weekend specials and promotions.

Some companies generate buzz by opening on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, 44.8 million people shopped on Thanksgiving, up 27 percent from 2012, according to the National Retail Federation, while 92.1 million made Black Friday their main shopping event.

As retailers gear up for this huge weekend, shoppers are also prepping. Many are making lists and checking them twice. But before you jump on advertised bargains, you may want to double check that fine print. BBB’s Code of Advertising can help you leave happy with the bargains you find.

As you consider which holiday sales you want to shop, BBB advises you to keep these sales terms in mind:

Sales: The word “sale” should be used only when there is a significant reduction from the advertiser’s usual price. The sale must be for a limited time.

Lowest price: Prices fluctuate rapidly, and sellers can have a difficult time comparing their lowest price with all competitors. If advertisers claim they have the lowest price, they should have evidence to verify their claim.

Asterisks: If a deal has asterisks and disclosures, they should be as large as possible, as clear as possible and close to the original claim, not several clicks away on a website.

Free: The word “free” may be used in advertising when a business is offering an unconditional gift. If getting the free item requires a purchase:

  • The advertiser must disclose this condition clearly and conspicuously together with the “free” offer (not by placing an asterisk or symbol next to “free” and referring to conditions in a footnote);
  • The normal price of the merchandise or service to be purchased must not have been increased or its quantity or quality reduced; and
  • The “free” offer must be temporary—otherwise it would become a continuous combination offer.

Other things to consider before you buy:

Shop with Trust.

BBB recommends doing your research on a business before you shop, especially with online stores. You can view BBB Business Reviews, which display how long a company has been in business, how they handle complaints, customer reviews, and advertising concerns by visiting

Check Return and Exchange Policies.

Holiday weekend specials and sales can come with policy changes. Make sure you understand the return and exchange policy for a Black Friday special and that a return is even possible – especially if you’re buying online.