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Last updated: Fri. Nov. 23, 2012 - 01:37 pm EDT

Black Friday: Real deals?

Experts say there are better times to buy but acknowledge tradition

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Time to buy

You're ready to shop till you drop, but there could be better times to bag bargains. Take a look: January

Bedding

CDs & DVDs

Computers

Toys

TVs February

Indoor furniture

Exercise equipment March

Digital cameras

DVD and Blu-ray players

TVs

Winter coats April

Computers

Digital cameras

Spring clothing May

Athletic apparel and shoes

Cordless phones

Small consumer electronics June

Camcorders

Computers

Small consumer electronics

Summer sports gear July

Camcorders

Swimwear August

Snow blowers September

Bikes

Digital cameras

Small consumer electronics

Snow blowers October

Bikes

Computers

Digital cameras

Gas grills

Winter coats November

Bikes

Camcorders

Gas grills

GPS navigators

Toys

TVs December

Bikes

Small consumer electronics

Toys

TVs

Source: Consumer Reports

Area Hoosiers are hyped for Black Friday, but some retail watchers say consumers shouldn't blindly bolt for advertised bargains.

There are other times of the year when prices are actually better.

"It's true some good deals are out there, but it's not just about one day," said Louis Ramirez, a senior writer with Dealnews.com, a consumer website that directs people to various product sales. "A lot of the discounted TVs are going to be generic brands, and if that suits you, fine. But if you're looking for the best prices on brand name sets, you're better off waiting until the Consumer Electronics Show in January."

The event, put on by the Consumer Electronics Association in Las Vegas, is eagerly anticipated by techies every year. More than that, the show is a signal to retailers to move old merchandise to make room for the latest models.

That means January is a good time to start looking for flat screens – if you don't have hang-ups about buying last year's model.

"Black Friday is a good way to get people into the stores," Ramirez said. "The retailers figure that even if they lose a little on a discounted item, they will make it up on other merchandise. Once you're in the store, you buy stuff you don't necessarily need, and that's where they recoup their sales."

Stores had better not depend on Grady Griffin. The 36-year-old Fort Wayne resident recently moved from Chicago – home of the Magnificent Mile shopping area. His experience in the Windy City has made him a shrewd shopper, he said.

"I just don't buy stuff just because it's on sale," Griffin said. "I got to have the money first."

In other words, Griffin is not a charge first and worry later consumer.

"I don't do that," he said.

The National Retail Federation is expecting another conservative shopping season this year. The Washington, D.C.-based group estimates holiday spending will increase about 4 percent to $586 billion. Critics have said that amount, when adjusted for inflation, is pretty much flat when compared when last year.

One reason some shoppers may be cool to holiday shopping is the Internet has made "everybody more savvy," said Kendal Perez from consumer savings website FreeShipping.org. "People have more power than ever" to find the best deals. "There are shopping apps on mobile devices, mobile coupons and things like that. It's really changing the behavior."

Of course, you won't have elbow room at stores on Friday.

"Retailers know 6 a.m. to noon on Black Friday is when most of the shopping gets done," said Mike Brooks, general manager of Jefferson Pointe. "They're missing an opportunity to get sales if they're not open."

Brooks said there may be better times of the year to get certain items, but Black Friday is so ingrained in the public's conscience that it isn't likely to fade away.

pwyche@jg.net


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