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Nine Products Not to Buy on Black Friday

Americans are likely to trim their budgets this holiday season. According to Gallup, consumers estimate they will spend just $704 on gifts this year, on average. This is down from 2012, when the average consumer said they would spend $770.

With consumers expecting to spend less, and Thanksgiving falling especially late in the year, competition between retailers will be especially intense this holiday season. But even with the sheer number of deals being offered for Black Friday, consumers can still make bad shopping decisions. Consulting with several groups that compile Black Friday deals, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed some of the worst purchases to make on Black Friday.

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Many of the worst deals being offered on Black Friday feature out-of-season products. Prices for home improvement tools and supplies tend to be best around Father’s Day, closer to when many consumers are looking for spring cleaning sales. Both Lowe’s and The Home Depot offer “Spring Black Friday” sales. According to FatWallet’s Brent Shelton, gas grills are a better deal in the fall, when retailers are looking to clear out unsold inventory from the summer months.

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Black Friday also coincides with the peak demand for some popular gifts. Among these are toys, winter clothing, and holiday decorations. Shoppers buying toys for their kids may want to wait until December, since prices for toys tend to drop as Christmas approaches. Winter clothing and holiday decorations also tend to be especially expensive around Black Friday.

Customers should also be on the lookout for products that tend to be marked up on Black Friday. Electronics often are loss leaders, meaning companies sell them at a loss to get customers into their stores. However, the accessories that come with many electronics are frequently marked up.

These are nine products you shouldn’t buy on Black Friday.

1. Toys

Toys are among the worst buys on Black Friday. According to BFAds, toys are among the items that “see their demand peak around November.” Typically, according to Gottadeal’s Brad Olson, prices on toys “drop like a rock two weeks before Christmas.” This is because retailers usually need to clear out their inventory before Christmas, since sales of the season’s hot toys die out after the holidays. This year consumers may be getting a break. Major retailers are expected to loosen their returns policies, BFAds told 24/7 Wall St. This means Black Friday buyers who see a lower price later in the holiday season may be able to return their toys, and then buy the same products again at a lower price.

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2. Winter clothing

Winter clothes are usually not a good deal on Black Friday. Clothing tends to cost more in the season it is needed. Just as consumers buy warm-weather clothing in the spring, they tend to buy winter clothing when the weather turns cold. Usually, you see low prices on winter clothing in the spring, as retailers try to clear out their stock from the previous season. But, BFAds also notes, “while it's great to have the foresight to buy a big winter coat in April, if you need one right now, reasonable people aren't going to brave the cold for a couple months just to save a couple dollars.”

3. Holiday decorations

According to BFAds, holiday decorations are better deals at the tail end of the season. Sellers are more than eager to dump decorations before the end of the year, so prices are usually lower later in December. But many customers are unlikely to wait until the day before Christmas to buy their holiday decorations, BFAds noted. In many cases, consumers would rather have lights and ornaments for longer, and pay more, than save a few dollars.

4. Higher-end HDTV

According to Gottadeal’s Olson, high-end TVs are not a good buy during Black Friday. Instead, companies tend to give bigger discounts for lower-end TVs. These TVs often serve as loss leaders, meaning the retailer sells the product at a loss in order to entice customers to shop there. Watch out for accessories like HDMI cables, though, they’ll still cost you.

5. Electronics accessories

Black Friday is not a good time to buy electronics accessories. Companies will often offer selected electronic devices, such as TVs, at a heavy discount in order to get customers to come to their stores. This entices consumers to buy other products at regular or even marked-up prices. According to BFAds, stores will often sell a headline product for no profit or at a loss, and then look to profit by selling accessories, such as cables, at a considerable mark up.

6. Fitness equipment

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Fitness equipment is not an especially good buy on Black Friday, according to Gottadeal’s Olson. Instead, customers are better off waiting until January. Consumers are often eager to fulfill New Year’s resolutions that involve losing weight. Because of this, gym memberships and demand for exercise equipment typically spike at the start of the year. As a result, Olson adds, consumers get “much better deals in January.”

7. Home improvement supplies and tools

Home improvement tools are best bought around Father’s Day. Customers get the best deals on high end products at that time of year, says FatWallet’s Brent Shelton. While Black Friday prices have improved in the last few years, if you plan on buying tools, wait until right before Father’s Day for the best prices, unless you really need it. The same applies for home improvement supplies, he said. Shelton notes that tools and supplies “are best purchased during spring cleaning sales and in June -- right before it gets too hot.”

8. Gas Grills

FatWallet’s Shelton notes that gas grills can usually be bought for less in September than on Black Friday. The reason, is that around September retailers are “overstocked and trying to make room for the holiday,” so discounts tend to be better. Additionally, selection is usually limited on Black Friday because gas grills are out of season.

9. Automotive supplies

People tend to work on their cars at roughly the same time they do their spring cleaning. According to FatWallet’s Shelton, any purchases for your car are best made “in spring, leading up to Father’s Day.” But, he added that Black Friday prices have improved due to the sheer popularity of Black Friday.

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