Black Friday 2017: 5 retail traps to avoid this holiday season

You’ve set a holiday budget, reviewed the Black Friday ad scans and mapped out your shopping strategy to save more and spend less this holiday season.

But if you’re not careful, common retail traps could make this a Christmas to remember for all the wrong reasons.

RELATED: The best days to shop between now and Christmas

We know you have a lot of Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping to do, so let’s get straight to the top five things money expert Clark Howard wants you to know:

Retailers are aware that many shoppers can’t resist a sale, so that’s why we’re bombarded with promotions like “50% off” and “Buy one, get one free.”

However, the regular price listed on items may be inflated to make it look like you’re getting a better deal than you really are.

Before you buy something just because it’s supposedly 25%, 50% or 75% off the retail price, stop to think about whether you can afford the final price — the only one that matters.

Also, you can comparison shop in the stores using your smartphone by going to

Whether you’re buying for family, friends or yourself, there’s a good chance that at least one item you purchase this holiday season will have to be returned.

Many stores have special holiday return policies to give you extra time for returns and exchanges. For example, Best Buy:

“Buy your gifts and other items this holiday with the peace-of-mind of easy returns. Almost every purchase made throughout November and December can be returned through January 14, 2018. Purchases made between October 29–December 30, 2017 have an extended return period through January 14, 2018, excluding cell phones, devices that can be activated, AppleCare monthly plans, and Vivint products. All other terms and conditions of our Return & Exchange Promise apply.”

To avoid any return headaches, have a receipt either printed or emailed for every purchase you make.

When you’re looking for deals online, clicking on Facebook or email links could take you to fake retail websites that only exist to steal your personal information.

These pages may look similar to the retailer’s official site, but it’s just a scam!

Some signs of a bogus retail website include a suspicious URL, spelling or grammatical mistakes and deals that seem too good to be true.

To find the legitimate website, start by doing a search on Google for “company name + official site.”

If you’re struggling to figure out what to get somebody on your Christmas list this year, Clark says there’s one thing you shouldn’t buy: gift cards.

Given recent store closures, his concern is that the retailer may shut down before the gift card is redeemed.

“There has never been a year that it has been more dangerous to receive or to give gift cards for restaurants and retailers,” Clark said. “Both industries are having a terrible time right now.”

Instead of a gift card, Clark says the better gift is a greeting card and cash.

When you’re at the register, a sales associate may ask if you want to sign up for a store credit card to receive 20% off your first purchase or 0% special financing for 12 months. Don’t do it!

The problem with one-store-only credit cards is that many of them apply retroactive interest.

For example, if you make a $1,000 purchase at 24.99% deferred interest for 12 months, you’d owe $249.90 in interest if you don’t pay off the entire balance during that promotional period.

It doesn’t matter how much is left over on the bill, you still have to pay all of that interest!

RELATED: Early Black Friday 2017: Stores open on Thanksgiving

If you want to stay on budget this holiday season, you have to create a budget in the first place! Be realistic about how much you’ll need to spend on yourself and for loved ones — then set a limit.

And once you have a shopping list, stick to it! Resist the temptation to spend, spend, spend.

Next Up in Business

Decision on fate of Plant Vogtle might come by the end of the month
Decision on fate of Plant Vogtle might come by the end of the month

Recent corporate tax reforms passed by the Senate and the House could prompt a decision on the fate of embattled nuclear power plant Vogtle by the end of this year. The decision on Vogtle was initially set for February but in letter exchanges this week between the CEO of Georgia Power Paul Bowers and the chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission...
Coca-Cola Executive Vice President Irial Finan to retire
Coca-Cola Executive Vice President Irial Finan to retire

Coca Cola’s Executive Vice president Irial Finan will retire from his position at the company in March. Finan who is also the current President for the company’s Bottling Investments Group, BIG will be replaced by Calin Dragan, who will begin his new role in January. Dragan currently serves as the Regional Director for BIG’s Southeast...
Here's what your astrological sign says about your career path
Here's what your astrological sign says about your career path

Whether you're thriving in your career or constantly struggling to come to terms with your workplace situation, maybe you were born this way. Just like Meyer's Brigg personality tests or any number of other workplace prognosticators, your zodiac sign may influence your career values and motivations. Horoscope astrology is based on the idea that...
Feeling crafty this holiday season? 5 artsy ideas that can bring in cash
Feeling crafty this holiday season? 5 artsy ideas that can bring in cash

The most wonderful time of the year could be a wonderful time for your wallet as well.  If you're a pro at arts and crafts, the Christmas season opens up opportunities to showcase your talents and develop a lucrative holiday business. "Christmas is one of the busiest times for me as a graphic designer," said Tonya Wright, an award-winning...
Griffin woman files complaint against Walmart for anti-pregnancy bias
Griffin woman files complaint against Walmart for anti-pregnancy bias

A Griffin woman has filed legal action against Walmart for company managers’ treatment of her, charging them with discrimination against pregnant workers. In a filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Atlanta, Whitney Tomlinson, 30, a single mother, is asking for an unspecified amount of money from the Arkansas-based retail...
More Stories