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Black Friday deals

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Considering a trip to the mall on Black Friday? The mob frenzy should be reason enough to stay home. But if you seek further reassurance, here are five more reasons to avoid the malls on this overblown shopping "holiday."

1. Door-busters are mainly second-tier products 

Don't hold your breath for this year's door-crashing discounts, says Consumer Reports -- at least not if you're hoping to find top-quality brands at a fraction of the price. "One thing I've noticed is that many of the lowest prices this year are on secondary and tertiary brands, such as Element, Sansui, Seiki, and Dynex, that we don't typically cover," said one CR reporter.

2. You can find some of the same deals online

You don't need to bring your sleeping bag and wait outside Target to be first in line on Black Friday. You can take advantage of some of the same deals online from the comfort of your home. In fact, Target offered many of its door-busters online last year with an additional 10% off coupon -- making it actually cheaper to shop from home, says Dealnews.com, which has been tracking an increase in Black Friday deals on the Web.

In its recent Black Friday announcement, Walmart (which is actually starting its Black Friday festivities on Thanksgiving evening) said it wil offer many deals online, including: 46" HDTVs for under $400 and some Blu-ray discs for $20.

And shoppers are catching on -- a survey by eBates.com and Harris found more than 70% of Americans will likely head online to shop on Black Friday. 

3. You're more likely to overspend

Black Friday can be an overwhelming experience. The crowds, discounts, time crunch and frenzy can increase adrenaline, which we know can then lead to irrational behavior, such as overspending. "Middle Class America is notorious for living beyond [its] means, especially on Black Friday," says Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think, in a press release. People "end up buying more than they would on any other day during the year." 

4. Layaway may not be available

Layaway is making a broad comeback this holiday shopping season, but don't assume you can place Let's Rock Elmo on hold this Black Friday. Walmart policy states that layaway is not available on Friday, November 25, for instance. Toys R Us also tells me its layaway program will not be available to customers on Black Friday, but will resume on November 26.

5. Return policies may be stricter

Besides layaway, stores' return policies may also change on Black Friday. DailyFinance recently did a nice round-up of return policies for Black Friday shoppers. At Amazon, for example, most merchandise purchased on Black Friday may be returned until January 31 for a full refund, but some things like jewelry, may not be returned.

Always ask about the policy before ringing up any merchandise -- and keep receipts in a safe place.

 

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