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Black Friday Pricing: Deja Vu All Over Again

Apparently the late, great Yogi Berra’s classic malaprop couldn’t be truer than on Black Friday.

According to a review of doorbuster promotions over the last three years by shopping comparison site Brad’s Deals, if you think you’ve seen that early-bird sale before, chances are you have.

Target, for example, offered a Nikon D3200 DSLR two-lens bundle for $499 during Black Friday 2013. The same offer returned a year later, for only $3 more at $496, content marketing manager Rebecca Lehmann noted in a Brad’s Deals blog.

In another instance, Toys“R”Us touted Skylanders video game software and figurines for halfoff at $37.49 during its four-hour deals sales … in both 2013 and 2014.

What’s more, Black Friday was hardly the last chance to get in on the low-price action. Beats by Dre Wireless studio headphones, another 2014 Target doorbuster, appeared for five cents less at Staples this past July, Lehmann found, while the Nikon D3200 bundle wound up selling for the same price at Adorama two days before Christmas. The latter, she said, also helps destroy the myth that you’ll pay more if you wait until the last minute for your Christmas shopping.

While most of the repeat products were comprised of countertop appliances and kitchenware — new CE iterations made year-over-year comparisons difficult for electronics, she said — Lehmann believes her research provides a valuable lesson for consumers.

“It’s hard not to see Black Friday for what it is: a lot of hype about deals that often return again and again throughout the year. It doesn’t mean that Black Friday deals are bad,” she observed, “only that they’re not always so special as retail propaganda would have you believe.”