Lowest prices still to come? Professor and Decide.com help you know

I was paralyzed by indecision this weekend about whether I should face the crowds and go to the malls to try to get deals or if good prices would exist beyond Black Friday and this weekend.

Because I had a cold, I decided to stay home but was kicking myself feeling like I was missing out … until I found this article.

The New York Times wrote about a University of Washington computer science professor Oren Etzioni, who has devoted his time to studying shopping and when consumers can find the lowest prices.

From The New York Times:

“…It is not until early December, Professor Etzioni’s research shows, that prices are likely to be the lowest for electronics, products that are among the biggest sellers on the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

“The bottom line is, Black Friday is for the retailers to go from the red into the black,” he said. “It’s not really for people to get great deals on the most popular products.”

The professor created a complex computer algorithm to determine the best time for you to buy consumer electronics. His website, Decide.com, studies current and historical prices, information and rumors about the products and then projects whether the price is at its lowest or if it will drop more. The site gives you a percent such as 86 percent likely to drop in the next two weeks or buy now – 78 percent likely to increase. (There’s a mobile app so you can do your research in the store.)

I want a new camera and the site tells us we should buy now and lets you compare the prices on top sellers.

So what about the lowest prices on other products not covered by Decide.com currently:

Toys:

For toys, the lowest prices are found in the weeks immediately following Thanksgiving because the stores want to unload inventory, according to Dan de Grandpre of Dealnews.com. But the catch is the toy prices pop up again in the last week or so before Christmas to catch the desperate shoppers that waited.

He explains the stores feel confident raising the prices because they have cleared out so much of their inventory

Clothes

James C. Bieri, who heads a Detroit-based real estate firm that leases to retailers, says “Better times to make apparel purchases include back-to-school and post-holiday clearance sales, and it is an area where coupons, friends-and-family discounts and the like are big money-savers.” He says apparel is where retailers make up their margins on Black Friday, so its not good to buy then. (That makes me feel better that I didn’t go.)

So what do you on these theories about pricing? Do you think it’s true? Would you use Decide.com to help you know when to buy the laptop or iPad for Christmas? When are you shopping or did you finish this weekend? Do you feel like you got good deals this weekend?

19 comments Add your comment

DB

November 28th, 2011
1:50 am

Honestly? I just don’t worry about it too much. I set a budget, and figure out how much I’m going to spend on each person, and then shop accordingly, keeping pretty close to budget. A few dollars one way or another — eh. I’m not going to lose sleep over whether I overpaid by $5 or $10. I’d rather save the money, and if I happen upon a deal, I’ll be happy, but I’m not one to chase deals or stand in line for hours just to save $5 on a video game.

It’s only money. And when it comes to the iPad, I’m waiting for the iPad3 this spring . . . :-)

catlady

November 28th, 2011
6:59 am

Thanks for the info, Theresa, but I am not going to let a retail driven “day” dictate what I do. I have never participated in a Black Friday. In fact, I treat it as a “snow day” and won’t even go to the grocery! I certainly am not going to let a sales group make me feel “bad.” I am in charge of my buying–not some corporation!

Me

November 28th, 2011
7:58 am

I’m in agreement with @DB and @catlady whereby I simply choose not to worry over it. In fact, the only Black Friday “deal” of which I took part was a restaurant in the Avenue at West Cobb where they were providing a 25% bonus on gift cards purchased on Black Friday. As the wife and I enjoy this restaurant and frequent it on a regular basis, I went Friday afternoon and purchased a gift card in the amount of $400 thereby equating in a gift card valued at $500. This was purchased for ourselves and it basically provides us with an additional evening out for no additional cost.
I personally find my time more valuable than using it attempting to locate the absolute lowest price on whatever items. Even if there were a “big-ticket” item on our list, I wouldn’t camp out at some electronics store just to save money. If I want said item badly enough I will just pay the lowest “convenient” price or, sans that, simply won’t purchase it.
And I’m certainly not one to volunteer to fight traffic and crowds.

JJ

November 28th, 2011
8:12 am

No I don’t do Black Friday either. There’s nothing on my lists that requires me getting up at 3:00 am, or for shopping on Thanksgiving.

I start Christmas shopping in July. Usually that’s when I’m on vacation and I see things my family would like…..I’ve just about finished my shopping….will probably be done around the 15th…..

Stress free holidays!!!!

motherjanegoose

November 28th, 2011
8:27 am

I am never paralyzed by indecision to shop at the mall…I simply do not go. I might visit the mall 5 times per year and typically to eat or go to the movies. I do not shop there, with the exception of one store and I can get in there without going through the mall.

No Black Friday shopping here. I was out on M and T ( shopping for food and my daughter and I went to lunch after a mani/pedi) and did not leave my neighborhood until Saturday night. Yesterday, we went to church and that was all. We were getting a little sick of the leftovers on Saturday and went to eat Mexican Food. I went to my mailbox and walked the dog only, until Saturday, and it was wonderful to STAY home!

I actually got a GREAT deal on a Netbook, 2 years ago, after Christmas. I had a $50 credit card from my American Express that I could use at Best Buy if I purchased something over $200. I had forgotten all about it and then decided to use it after Christmas when I saw one on sale in their ad.

Does anyone else use Salescircular.com? My husband suggested it to me and I find it helpful for comparison shopping.

I would NEVER camp out for anything. I do not camp for fun and surely not for “work”. HAHA!

Techmom

November 28th, 2011
8:47 am

I did the Black Friday rush a few years when my son was young but once he was old enough to only want one or two pricey items, I quit (plus internet shopping wasn’t nearly as big 10 years ago as it is now). Last year he got a laptop from BestBuy that I ordered online on Black Friday- no camping out for me and I got the same deal as in store!

About 10am on Friday, I did decide to drive up to Target to check it out. They had the Kindle keyboard on sale for $85 (it’s $139 on Amazon) and I wanted to get my mom one for Christmas. I thought, hey, I’ll try it out, if they still have them, great, if not, I’ll order it. Low and behold, they still had a few! Saw a young man getting someone else a video game, asked if he could get me a Kindle when he was done, walked right up to the electronic checkout counter, paid and was out of there in about 6 minutes.

I’m glad we don’t live anywhere close to a mall- I loathe malls. The outlet mall is bad enough but since we’re 15 minutes from it, I do shop there on occasion though I typically avoid it like the plague between Thanksgiving & Christmas. I don’t need instant gratification for Christmas presents that aren’t going to be opened for a month so ordering things online, is just fine by me.

motherjanegoose

November 28th, 2011
8:50 am

@ twg…I need to introduce you to a friend on my Facebook…haha! She has posted 10 different bargains in the past 11 hours…I just checked in. This is someone I met at a conference…I am not personal friends with her. I do not know how people have time to do this ( all the time) but it amazes me the things she finds.

Figment

November 28th, 2011
9:13 am

I don’t do Black Friday shopping either. I usually do most of my shopping online where I can get free shipping. No waiting in line, no wasting gas driving around, no hassel, no stress. There are a few things I will pick up at the toy store for my son but everything else I’ve already bought online.

Theresa doesn't love us no more

November 28th, 2011
9:17 am

You didn’t blog all weekend! If you wanted to make me cry, mission accomplished!

Techmom

November 28th, 2011
10:34 am

Back to the subject of names: “Chauntavious Terrell”, 12 years old, was stabbed for his bike over the weekend. Wonder what the assailant’s name is.

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/12-year-old-stabbed-1243303.html

Mitzymy

November 28th, 2011
10:52 am

I did Black Friday when my children were young, but not the early morning rituals. I went to the malls at 8am after driving into the city. I always asked my children for a list of the things they wanted and I would not venture from it. I worked at different stores in the mall for 10 years and I know that there are no true bargains. They mark items up before sales, and mark them down during sales to reflect to the consumer that they have a good deal. No matter how low they mark the items down, the store is not losing, they are still making a profit. On the big sales days, they bring in clothes that are not the stores clothes, in hopes that people will buy other things that are more expensive. Then, these cheap clothes are shipped back to where they come from. Two weeks before Thanksgiving I shopped at one of the more prominent stores for shirts for my husband. These shirts were $50 dollars on sale for $15.99. I bought 3, and after the first washing, they shrunk 2 sizes.

JJ

November 28th, 2011
11:43 am

@Techmon – they aren’t saying, you know, gotta protect the “innocent”….but I did read the victim’s sister’s name is Tara…..

JJ

November 28th, 2011
12:15 pm

“I was paralyzed by indecision this weekend about whether I should face the crowds and go to the malls to try to get deals or if good prices would exist beyond Black Friday and this weekend.”

Really? Paralyzed???? you couldn’t move….Honestly, if you wanted to go, GO, if not, then stay home. Simple decisions. No need to be paralyzed by indecision.

I think my New Year’s resolution is to stay away from this blog during 2012…I’m done!!! If it’s not a topic on babies, then it’s a topic of your fears. We’ve covered everything three times in the years I’ve been here……

So, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. It’s been fun, but I’m done!!!

Warrior Woman

November 28th, 2011
12:19 pm

@Me – We did the same thing!

Becky

November 28th, 2011
12:55 pm

I went out on Friday, I usually always do and I love it..Not so much for the shoppin, I just enjoy getting in the spirit..I shop all year long, so I really only need maybe 2-3 things..

Theresa, you didn’t miss out on many great deals (IMO)..Like Mitzymy said, they mark stuff up, then mark it back down and people really think they are getting a great deal..Have seen that happen several times..

I figure if I didn’t get something at a “great” price this weekend, I’ll find something else before Christmas..If not, I’m not going to cry over it..

Penguinmom

November 28th, 2011
1:01 pm

I’ve been working this season at a store setting up the ads. It is interesting to see how many of the ’sale days’ don’t actually change the price of the item. I am changing signs from one 40% off to another 40% off. Sometimes, the change between a ’special’ sale and the regular sale is $1 (off a $200 sale price).

I think you have to decide what you are willing to pay for the items you want and not worry so much about the sales. If the percentage changes from 40 to 50% off, you are really only saving a few dollars on most items.

motherjanegoose

November 28th, 2011
1:31 pm

12 new posts on my “friend’s” Facebook for today’s bargains, since I last mentioned it. I think I will just check with her and skip the ads. New resource for me!

Nicki

November 28th, 2011
7:25 pm

I was amazed to see on Tv that some people even came from the Bahama’s to shop in Miami for Black Friday. I can’t cope in the Black Friday crowds which is why I try to stick as much as possible to on line shopping. My greatest success story for Christmas shopping has been on the Tracfone website, where I started buying phone cards and got a free phone every time with my purchase plus the free phone and phone card was delivered to my door free of charge. I now have 4 free phones that I’m going to give to my kids and my mom for Christmas. Tracfone also gives away free phone cards and double or triple minutes for the life of the phone with certain phone models which is a big money saver and an ideal Christmas present.

Ronel

November 29th, 2011
1:40 pm

I think if you’re young and strong you’d enjoy black Friday’s scrambling, but I’m pushing 55 and don’t feel like getting pushed around by the crowds anymore. In fact I’ve become hooked on shopping online. I get my pet products on line, I got my family phones on the Tracfone website plus they delivered them for free and they always have specials during the year, like free phones with a phone card that you buy.
Next black Friday I’m going to do shopping on line and I know I’ll get some great bargains to enjoy and I’ll actually love the peace and comfort of shopping from my home.