Andrew Lowe Homeworknow

TORONTO — Black Friday sales appear to seduce consumers with a number of can’t-miss deals, though industry experts say there are a number of merchandise categories that you’d be better off avoiding on Nov. 25.

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Whether you took the day off, plan to hit the stores after work or want to shop online, here is a roundup of the Black Friday deals out there for Canadians. Read on

“One could argue that almost anything is fair game for Black Friday — even car dealerships are getting in on it,” said Bruce Winder, partner in Toronto-based consultancy Retail Advisors Network. “The great question is whether or not you are getting a deal. Some retailers are hanging their hat on some nominal discounts, versus offering 50 per cent to 60 per cent off. But a fair amount of people do their homework now, and consumers are becoming wary of retailers’ tricks.”

The biggest trick may be having a sale in the first place. Marketers have long known that seeing a “sale” sign makes many people feel as though they have been given permission to spend freely; others feel that they are doing something virtuous in getting a deal. Fear-of-missing-out syndrome may also be at play. “A lot of the hype around Black Friday is driven by a sense of urgency on missing out on a deal, since it is so heavily advertised and talked about,” said Chris Walsh, industry expert at Fusion Retail Analytics in Toronto.

An analysis by personal finance website WalletHub looked at a number of Black Friday discounts in key categories, comparing prices from other times in the year with those on the annual shopping event. The worst discount came on jewellery, followed by apparel and accessories and consumer electronics — two of the most robust categories when it comes to consumers searching for Black Friday deals.

Here are a few other sub-categories consumers might want to take a pass on for the time being, according to industry experts.

1) Holiday décor and paper: Seasonal trinkets frequently get marked down to lower price on Black Friday, but any bargain hunter knows that a string of Christmas Lights or wrapping paper will be marked down by 70 per cent to 90 per cent come January.

2) Furniture: There are some decent furniture deals out there on Black Friday because furniture is a higher margin category, more flexible for markdowns. But the warmer months of spring and summer are when the best furniture promotions come up, experts say.

3) Fitness equipment: The busiest month for fitness equipment purchases is January as consumers seek to redeem themselves for calorific holiday indulgence and make New Year’s resolutions. According to Consumer Reports, the deals for treadmills and elliptical trainers are far better in June, when people who are still jogging can just as easily go outside.

4) Gift cards: While some consumer web sites such as Gift Card Granny and eBay offer discounted credit cards, they rarely sell below their face value at retail, even though they are one of the top holiday gift items in Canada.

5) Snow tires and seasonal equipment: Tire dealers typically offer incentives and sales on tires early in the season — think October — to remind customers to get their tires checked and changed with the season. And while some snow has fallen in Canada by November, snowblowers and shovels don’t get discounted in a significant way until many months later.

6) Winter outerwear and boots: Consumers might see discounts of 25 per cent on selected down-filled parkas and boots, but the real deals don’t come out until clearance season in February and beyond, as retailers realize the diminishing likelihood of selling the goods at full price.

7) Home improvement: “It’s not an opportune time for anyone hoping to do home renovations to get a Black Friday deal,” said Michael McLarney, the North American Retail Hardware Association’s managing director for Canada. Hardware or home improvement products are not sold at a big profit margin compared with other merchandise categories. However, home improvement retailers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot carry major appliances, and many of those do get marked down on Black Friday, McLarney added. “Those are big ticket, and have room for reduced margins.”

A single mother who has been held at knifepoint and pushed down the stairs by her six-year-old son is relieved he has finally been given a medical diagnosis to explain his violent behaviour. 

Maxine Denby's son Charlie was so aggressive she once had to call the police to their home in Carlisle to save her.

'At night time he would often melt down for three or four hours at a time and trash his bedroom and attack me,' she explained on today's This Morning.

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Maxine Denby appeared on today's This Morning to reveal how she once had to call the police to save her from her six-year-old son

'He seemed to have super strength and kept attacking me, I was at breaking point. My mum lived 20 minutes away and she said "that's it, I'm calling the police, she needs help".

'It took them a while to arrive as they just thought "it's just a six-year-old-boy, what's wrong with you?" but when they walked in they were shocked and astounded by the scene.'

The officers walked in to find the little boy branding a knife at his mother.

On another occasion, he pushed his mother down the stairs and carried on kicking her when she reached the bottom.  

Maxine, 41, told presenters Amanda Holden and Phillip Schofield how Charlie's behaviour had been 'boisterous' from the age of two and gradually got worse.

Dr Ravi Jayaram, right, appeared on This Morning with Maxine to explain how they diagnosed Charlie with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), a condition on the autistic spectrum

'The violence started age four,' she said. 'He was always naughty at school but they weren't worried but I was struggling at home. The school holidays would be horrific.'

But soon his behaviour also got worse at school and he was often sent home. 

Maxine said she did everything she could to improve their situation as she was constantly told her parenting skills must be to blame. 

'I looked at how I was parenting and kept trying to change strategies, I tried being more consistent with him but he got worse. I sought help when he was five.

'Everyone said it was down to me and my parenting and I should do a parenting course.'

But Maxine was sure there was more to do than that. She couldn't understand how her son could suddenly turn from being a happy, loving little boy to having a violent meltdown. 

The family feature on Channel 4 series Born Naughty? as Dr Jayaram, centre, visited the home with other experts to see if there was a medical condition behind Charlie's bad behaviour

'I had my suspicions as he had autistic tendencies (such as a remarkable memory and always taking things too literally) but he didn't quite fit the criteria. I knew it wasn't just my parenting. No one knew what was wrong with him so all the strategies we tried weren't working.'

The mother said Channel 4 show Born Naughty? turned out to be a 'lifesaver'.

They featured on the documentary - currently airing on Thursday evenings - which aimed to help children with behavioural problems which ranged from refusing to eat or do what they are told, to swearing, hitting and breaking things. 

They sought to discover if the issue was an undiagnosed medical condition, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism, or whether it was a parenting the problem and what can be done to help. 

Maxine couldn't understand how how little boy could go from happy and loving one minute to violent the next and her parenting skills were often blamed

Dr Ravi Jayaram worked with Maxine and Charlie, now aged nine, on the Channel 4 show along with other experts. 

He appeared on This Morning to explain how they diagnosed Charlie with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), a condition on the autistic spectrum that causes anxiety based on a need to be in control. 

He said: 'It's not one of those cranky American things, it's actually a diagnosis first found by British team in Nottingham and now considered part of autistic spectrum.

'The children who have it aren't just having tantrums - all children have those - these are beyond tantrums, violent, uncontrollable outbursts. 

Since being diagnosed Charlie, pictured with Dr Jayaram has been happier and calmer

'Children with it don't understand uncertainly or social cues. When they do what they want to do they are fine, but something that's out of routine that they are not prepared for can cause massive anxiety and they melt down. Parents often describe them as being like Jekyll and Hyde.'

The National Autistic Society describes the condition further on their website. They write: 'Individuals with PDA share difficulties with others on the autism spectrum in social aspects of interaction, communication and imagination. 

'However, the central difficulty for people with PDA is the way they are driven to avoid demands and expectations. This is because they have an anxiety based need to be in control.'

Dr Jayaram said there is no 'cure' for it because 'it's the way you are made' but he said there are things parents and teachers can do to help and support children to ensure they are happier and calmer.

Now aged nine, Charlie is doing much better at school thanks to his condition being understood

The PDA Society provide advice and support for parents on their website. Some of their tips include changing the way children are spoken to so they don't feel out of control or like demands are being placed on them. 

For example, instead of telling the child to 'do their homework now' they should ask them 'do you want to do your homework at 3pm or 4pm?. Or use indirect commands such as 'can you show me how you out your coat on' rather than demanding 'put your coat on!'

Maxine said the support they have been given now Charlie's condition is understood is 'fantastic' and learning how to cope with his behaviour has transformed their lives. 

She said: 'He is still part-time at school but he is much better now. The anxiety is brought down with that level of understanding.'

Born Naughty? is on Channel 4 Thursdays at 8pm. Charlie and Maxine feature on the programme on June 4th 

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