Go ahead, sleep in: Black Friday deals may not be so hot

Are you hoping to sleep in after a big Thanksgiving meal, but worried about missing out on bargains?

No need.

A study released Tuesday morning by NerdWallet finds that a number of the deals being offered for Black Friday are no better than what was offered last holiday season, or even a week or two earlier.

"Retailers keep offering the same kind of deals on Black Friday that consumers could have gotten for the same price last year," said Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst for NerdWallet.


A customer checks out at a Best Buy in Peoria, Ill.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer checks out at a Best Buy in Peoria, Ill.

The study examined 27 Black Friday advertisements and found that 25 retailers listed the same products for the same prices as they did in 2013. That's not necessarily a problem for something like the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer, which Kohl's is offering at $299.99 plus 10 percent off after a $50 rebate, just as in 2013. Mixer design has not changed much in the past year.

But for technology products, newness matters. Office Depot, for example, is offering the Brother Digital Color Wireless Printer for $349.97, the same deal it offered in 2013, even though the technology in the printer is now a year old.

"Although consumers might expect advances in printer technology to make older models less expensive, Office Depot will not be selling this printer for any cheaper this year," the report said.

A spokeswoman for Office Depot said she was unable to confirm those pricing details and added that "printer technology doesn't change as quickly as that of a tablet or laptop. Office Depot and OfficeMax strive to offer our customers the top products from leading manufacturers at an affordable price."

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A number of Black Friday deals are great bargains, Ong said. "But retailers know door-busters will get people in stores, and they are counting on shoppers when they are in stores to just grab things and put them in their carts."

Sometimes, retailers make Black Friday deals look better by comparing them to a manufacturer's suggested retail price, even though they normally offer a discount from that price. NerdWallet found that Sears is offering the Samsung 55-inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED HDTV at $599.99, which they compare with the list price of $1,199.99. But Sears was selling that same TV for $807.49 shortly before Black Friday, the researchers found.

"Consumers are looking for the big discounts," Ong said, but it is prudent to check prices on a company's website before the promotions take effect to see if the discounts are all they seem to be.

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More women than men seem to have gotten the message about Black Friday. NerdWallet found 81 percent of men said they typically shop on Thanksgiving evening or Black Friday, compared with 74 percent of women. And 16 percent of men expect to spend 10 hours or more waiting in line, shopping in a store, or shopping online on those days, compared with 10 percent of women.

"Black Friday is really at its core about cheap electronics," Ong said. Young men are the biggest consumers of electronics, and "we know a lot of people on Black Friday are buying things for themselves."

Ong recommends consumers start paying attention now to the prices of items on their holiday shopping lists. Deals may emerge anytime from now until the end of the holiday shopping season, he said.

Sales were lackluster on the weekend following Thanksgiving 2013, in part because some shoppers were out snapping up bargains before the holiday.

If the offers NerdWallet found are an indication, shoppers may have no more motivation than they did last year to hit the stores on this Black Friday.