6 Things You Didn't Know About Black Friday

Whether you're a seasoned doorbuster shopper or planning your first attempt at Black Friday, there's more to this annual holiday sales event than what the stores let on.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

The holiday shopping season is in full swing as retailers announce Black Friday promotions early, in hopes of drumming up a bargain frenzy for this big sales event. Though many Americans scoff at stores for offering early access to these discounts on Thanksgiving, most consumers welcome doorbuster sales with open arms.

Whether you're a seasoned doorbuster shopper or planning your first attempt at Black Friday, there's more to this annual holiday sales event than what the stores let on. Read on for six surprising things you didn't know about Black Friday, plus a few tips to help you save money.

1. Black Friday doesn't offer the best deals of the season.
According to a recent survey conducted by FatWallet, over one-third of shoppers believe the best deals of the holiday season happen on Black Friday. While you can score a great price on an off-brand TV, toys are better priced during the first two weeks of December. Meanwhile, Free Shipping Day on Dec. 18 has deeper discounts on apparel, shoes and kitchen goods, according to Rather-Be-Shopping blogger Kyle James.

2. Some products are specifically made for Black Friday sales.
Stores like Walmart and Target advertise deep discounts on TVs and electronics, but some of these items are specifically manufactured to be sold for cheap on Black Friday. These products are of lower quality and may be missing key features. I learned this lesson the hard way - my husband and I splurged on a Smart HDTV during on Black Friday sale, only to find it was missing HDMI inputs, among other things.

3. Doorbuster discounts don't stop at the sale price.
Many shoppers believe sale prices are the lowest price they can receive for products, especially on Black Friday. However, many stores offer additional savings in the form of coupons, if you know where to find them. Stores like Belk and Michaels often include coupons for extra savings in their Black Friday ads. You can also redeem coupons digitally using the Coupon Sherpa mobile app, which aggregates top deals for Black Friday shopping.

4. Prices may fluctuate all day long.
While dynamic pricing isn't specific to Black Friday sales, it's especially frustrating for deal seekers hoping to snatch up top discounts on this popular holiday shopping event. Last year, many of the big box stores fluctuated offers throughout the day to meet competitor pricing. To beat retailers at this game, use a price-comparison tool like Invisible Hand or tap into the SnapUp App to set sale alerts and price drop notifications so you know where to find a specific product for the lowest price.

5. You're at risk for getting into a parking lot accident.
In a study conducted by Progressive Insurance, claims doubled on Black Friday between 2010 and 2011, with parking lot claims increasing by over one third. With up to 70 million people shopping on Black Friday, it's no wonder these accidents are so commonplace, especially when you factor in fatigue, dark mornings and limited parking spaces.

6. "Compare at" prices aren't what they seem.
Many stores compare Black Friday sale prices to the manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP. However, stores typically offer products for less than MSRP, so the comparison is misleading. For example, one major retailers offered a Samsung 55" 1080P 120Hz Smart LED HDTV for a sale price of $599.99 last year, comparing it to the MSRP of $1,199.99. However, that store never sold the unit for this price, and had most recently advertised the TV for $807.49.