ROCKFORD (WREX) — The holiday shopping season feels like it has been underway for a long time now, but with Black Friday coming up, scammers can take advantage of some hot holiday deals.
According to the Better Business Bureau, data from the National Retail Association suggests between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion will be spent this holiday season, an increase of 6-8% over last year's record sales.
Like last year, many shoppers are looking for deals online, but issues such as shipping delays, hiring challenges, and microchip shortages are impacting consumers once again. This could lead many to rush to brick-and-mortar stores and spend more on gifts, decorations, and other holiday items, the BBB says.
Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the BBB, says just because it is the lowest price doesn't always mean it is the best deal.
"This always is a time where emotions run high and, to snap up a great deal, people often rush their decisions," Horton says. "This can lead to buyer's remorse if a fast decision leads to getting scammed online, or buying an item that shoppers end up deciding they didn't want or dealing with a company that turns out to be substandard."
If you do shop in-person on Black Friday, the BBB says following a few simple tips will keep you safe from scammers and identity theft.
- Do your research: Check store reviews and read what other customers have experienced. Read product reviews on items that have been significantly discounted to ensure you are getting what is advertised.
- Make the most of Black Friday deals: Start with a list of items and use sale flyers to find the best price. Set a budget and stick with it.
- Read the fine print: Some stores could offer an additional discount off the purchase, but exclude specific deals or "doorbuster" items. Companies may boast a high percentage off while inflating the item's original price. Be careful while checking the price tags, terms, and conditions.
- Carefully plan your trip: Make a map of stores to visit and what items are at each store. Some sales are only during a specified time of day, while some retailers may limit the amount of big discounts available for purchase.
- Sign up for email alerts: Many stores release Black Friday deals and exclusive coupons to those who have signed up for promotional emails. Sign up ahead of the holidays, then unsubscribe afterwards.
- Know the return policy and warranty information: When gifting an item to someone else, make sure to let them know information about returns, exchanges, repairs, or warranties. Gift receipts are often the easiest way for anyone to return or exchange an item, but make sure the item is able to be returned before buying it. Rules regarding refunds and exchanges change from store to store. Refunds and exchanges are a privilege, not a right.
For more information, including looking up a business, filing a complaint, writing a customer review, reporting a scam, or other important shopping tips, visit the Better Business Bureau's website.