A reader: Black Friday is happening earlier all the time. Do you have any advice you can offer to help me get my holiday shopping done?
Action Line: “Black Friday,” also known as the day after Thanksgiving, is the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. Consumers brave long crowds and stay up through the midnight hours at brick-and-mortar locations to get those once-a-year deals, making Black Friday the single busiest shopping day of the year. While most consumers like to go out and shop, many are opting to shop from the comfort of their couch this year.
If you’re not sure what to get for someone this holiday season, we have you covered. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual consumer spending survey conducted by Proper Insights & Analytics, gift cards still remain the most popular gifts, sought by 61 percent, followed by clothing and accessories (54 percent), books, CDs and DVDs (40 percent – which is the lowest in survey history), consumer electronics (32 percent), sporting goods (19 percent) and home improvement items (17 percent).
The busiest stores on Black Friday often are cellphone and electronic stores with foot traffic being the heaviest between 2-4 p.m.
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Better Business Bureau Serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties recommends the following tips to make this shopping season an enjoyable one.
▪ Public Wi-Fi: It’s all right to look up reviews or compare prices using public Wi-Fi, but it’s best to avoid logging on to any of your banking sites or other sites with sensitive personal information. Public Wi-Fi is often vulnerable to thieves and fraudsters who are looking to steal your info.
▪ Email subscription: Many stores communicate their best Black Friday deals to people who have signed up to receive their emails. Just remember, you should never send cash or credit card information directly in response to an email you receive, even if it seems legit. It could be a phishing scam.
▪ Email phishing: With all the promotional emails you will be receiving during the holidays, scammers will be out in full force. It’s best not to click on any links in emails from senders you don’t recognize. You can also hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it is. Also, check the reply email address. The address should be on a company domain.
▪ Gift receipts and warranty information: Ask for a gift receipt that can be tucked into a gift item or card so the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right. Be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs and warranties to the person who will use the item.
▪ Research: Read product reviews, check out BBB.org/ccie for Business Reviews, look at the sales fliers and ads, compare prices, and look for early promotions and “flash sales.” For tips on searching online, check out BBB Digital IQ.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or email@example.com.