Are Black Friday Ad Leaks Always Correct?

Black Friday can be a crazy time, with shoppers anxious to snag the best deals. The promise of huge discounts on the holiday season’s hot goods drives people to wait in line for hours, or even to camp outside stores overnight for time-sensitive deals. You can basically only choose one store for your early-bird Black Friday shopping, and so you’ll want to know which store is offering the better deals, with the lowest prices, than competitors. Many shoppers rely on Black Friday ad leaks, released right up to Thanksgiving Day, to prepare for the special deals, but it’s always good to ensure they’re the real thing—and not fake, factually inaccurate, or misleading reports or pre-released ads. Be aware of the following to help you know the Black Friday ad leaks to trust.

The Fine Print

If a leaked ad doesn’t contain any fine print about the terms and conditions of Black Friday deals, be weary. In the official ads, the stores are required to include any qualifications or strings attached to any deal. For example, if you see the word “FREE,” there probably is smaller print about a mail-in rebate, limited stock, or other limitations for it to be free. Hundreds of shoppers might be vying for those advertised deals, when only a limited number of are available. When deeply-discounted goods are offered in limited quantities, your chances of actually getting that product at the advertised price will be close to nil. Leaked ads without fine print don’t give you this information.

Partial Ads and Speculations

Retailers print their official Black Friday ads in the circulars that publish on Thanksgiving. If an ad is leaked online earlier, you can count it as unreliable if the ad is missing pages or graphic details. If the image of the ad looks as though it has been sneakily taken from a manager’s desk, photographed on a cellphone and then sent to a leak site, it’s almost certainly compromised and unlikely to be accurate.

Be wary of rumors as wells. By the end of October 2011, Best Buy had not officially disclosed its hours, prompting speculation that the store may open at 5 a.m. Friday, midnight, or even earlier. Walmart was opening at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night, so some concluded that Best Buy was also opening at that time. The official Black Friday ad for Best Buy, however, set the record straight: doors would open at midnight on Friday, with numbered tickets being handed out to the first-in-line shoppers starting at 10 p.m. Another source that confirmed this was Best Buy’s official Facebook page.

The midnight opening in 2011 was unprecedented for Best Buy. The previous year the store had not opened until 5am Black Friday morning, but like other retailers, Best Buy pushed back opening hours to compete with Walmart and Target and be early-bird shoppers’ first choice. Always check the official Black Friday ad and local newspaper details as close to Black Friday as the day before to ensure that you have the correct information.

Press Releases and Other Resources

On the whole, most Black Friday ad leaks do contain accurate information. Use your judgment on whether an incomplete or unofficial-looking leaked ad is likely to contain fake information. Any leaked ad that is backed up by the same information in a press release is likely legitimate. If in doubt, call your local store to double-check information such as opening hours or visit the store’s official social media channel such as Facebook or Twitter. Retailers are generally proactive in correcting any misleading information in leaked ads.

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