The dirty secret of Black Friday doorbusters

Posted: Updated:

There’s no denying it. Great deals are to be had on Black Friday.

Retailers make it clear, tomorrow is the time to get a great deal on some of the season's most popular items.

But could pre-dawn shoppers who line up for hours be doing it all for nothing?

The answer may be yes.

A quick scan of doorbuster deals for Best Buy show a minimum of five per store for some items like laptops, digital cameras and HD TV's.

Wal-Mart's Black Friday ad shows certain items will be in limited quantity, or while supplies last.

So for the hundreds that may line up for one jaw-dropping deal, perhaps only a handful will walk away with what they want.
How do shoppers feel about all of this?

“I think that they should have enough product for anyone who wants to come buy it,” customer Linda Ramseyer said.

“It makes me wonder what, are they going to mark the rest of them up so to make up the difference, they're just playing a game to get people out here,” shopper Paul Ryan said.

And judging by the crowds, the strategy is working, but marketing professor Richard Baer says that doesn't make it right.

“I understand that they're trying to limit their financial exposure but they're doing it at the long term risk of hurting their brand,” Baer said.

Short supplies aren't just annoying, they can also be dangerous.

One employee died last Black Friday when eager customers rushed this Wal-Mart in New York.

To avoid scenes like this from playing out again, many companies, including Wal-Mart and Best Buy will hand out tickets for items on a first-come-first-serve basis.

So before you break out the tent or pack up the cooler, remember: although there's no shortage of space used to advertise Black Friday deals, the same can't be said for quantities being sold.

In a statement to 3 On Your Side, a Wal-Mart representative writes:

"At Walmart, our goal is to provide the products our customers want and need at the best possible price. We work diligently with our suppliers to get the best values as well as prepare inventory for this season of giving."

A representative from Best Buy writes:

"Doorbuster products are front-cover limited-quantity items on the Thanksgiving Day advertisement in your local newspaper. Select front-cover and other limited-quantity items from our Thanksgiving Day advertisement will require tickets. The ticket will grant the customer the ability to buy the item for a limited time."