Working as a data specialist at gap intelligence has made me stare at numbers…A LOT. I’m constantly checking to make sure pricing, promotions, and product placements are all QC’d(Quality Controlled) and GFD(what we gappers call our Great Freaking Data) certified for our clients. Fortunately, looking at pricing and promotional data can help a hardworking consumer like me because I know how to do my research while shopping for the holiday season. Since I have gained so much insight on Black Friday deals and holiday promotions, I wanted to share my wealth of knowledge for all you happy consumers looking to score good deals this holiday season.

Before I offload all this knowledge, I should advise that the best way to start is to start early. For those last minute shoppers that end up stressing out, you actually end up over-spending. This should be a happy time to get awesome gifts for your loved ones, not a reason to have a stroke.

First Things First, Do Your Research

Please don’t be fooled by sales. Yes, that tag says $60 instant savings, but are you really saving $60? If there’s something you really want and you’re planning on buying during the holidays, keep track of the shelf price. While QC’ing my data, I’ve come across some retailers marking up their shelf price to make the savings value seem larger. For example, these two ads from Best Buy were only three days apart and reflect two different shelf prices, but the same net price. Even though it’s ultimately paying the same amount at checkout, the consumer would be more inclined to choose the bigger instant savings value.

best buy ad images for the same tv with different shelf prices

To prevent this mix up, I would suggest keeping track of all top merchant’s shelf prices so you know for sure how much you’re really saving. Another way to do this is by checking out Black Friday ads to see the different shelf prices and saving options. For example, if someone wants a brand-new Sony 65 inch TV, I would advise them to make sure the shelf price is the same at Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. I would also advise checking online as well as the Black Friday ads, to compare the lowest price and highest savings. To further corroborate shelf price, check club stores, Costco, and Sams Club– which should have a lower shelf price overall, but they might not participate in Black Friday savings.

Here’s an example of two products at different retailers offering different savings options. Both have the same shelf price, but different savings value.

AirPods price at Walmart

AirPods price from Target

Second, Online Shopping is Key

Online deals tend to have better instant savings values, and if you can get free shipping, that’s an even bigger savings. Online prices do fluctuate the most, but keeping tabs on those changes can lead you to a better price point. Below, I have the extension Honey downloaded, which shows me the different price fluctuations up to a year, as well as testing different coupon codes to save you the most money.

Image of Honey Extension for online coupon saving

Chances that a consumer will find a huge discount on the product you want is very high because online retailers are constantly competing with Amazon prices. Some retailers also take part in “Free Shipping Day” on December 14th. Again, make sure you know your prices because they could mark up the shelf price to make you still pay shipping costs.

Third, Save Shopping for Electronics for the Holidays

Merchants are most likely trying to clear out their old products, or even offer deals for their existing ones to entice consumers. I personally save all my electronic needs for the end of the year for two reasons: One, if I still want it by the end of the year, I must buy it. Second, the sales! I purchased the Nintendo Switch, with a bundled Mario Kart game included ($360 value), for $299 and free shipping (DOUBLE WHAMMY). I haven’t seen this bundle offered, aside from Black Friday, so I consider that a win.

Nintendo Switch bundle price on Black Friday at Best Buy

Here’s another example of a Black Friday bundle deal. The Ring Video Doorbell has an instant savings of $120 and you also get a free Amazon Echo Show 5, which is an $89 value. The total savings is $209 and is a great deal if you want to include all these features in your home.

Ring Video Doorbell bundle with Amazon Echo Show on Black Friday

I just had a recent experience with using gap intelligence data when my boyfriend decided he wanted to upgrade his router and TV. I looked through and made sure I knew the exact shelf prices for both products that he wanted and kept track of those for the few weeks prior to Black Friday deals coming out. I knew exactly where I wanted to purchase the TV and the router and at the exact prices. I ended up choosing a different store for the router because my total savings was about $50 if I bought it somewhere else. I saved a good amount money just researching prices at different stores and saving my purchase for Black Friday. I thank gap intelligence for teaching me the ins and outs of the market and making me a smart consumer.

For more than 16 years, gap intelligence has served manufacturers and sellers by providing world-class services monitoring, reporting, and analyzing the 4Ps: prices, promotions, placements, and products. Email us at or call us at 619-574-1100 to learn more.