We’ve had plenty of notice that Black Friday is now more than just the day after Thanksgiving. The holiday shopping season kicked off earlier this year, with Amazon leading the way with more deals more than a month before the “traditional” Black Friday with its Prime Early Access sale. (opens in a new tab) in October. This second Amazon Prime Day of the year turned out to be the first shot at holiday shopping.
Others followed, including Best Buy, The Home Depotagain Walmart. And sprinkled in were plenty of deals to make Cyber Monday jealous, with even Apple slacking off and slashing prices at retailers like Target, which is now home to Apple stores.
But there will still be plenty of Black Friday shopping (outside of REI’s external provider (opens in a new tab)) and Cyber Monday tech deals to consider, as well retailers are optimistic about holiday sales general. To that end, we’re offering some smart shopping guidance both days and throughout the busy retail season. Have at it.
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Black Friday Deals Still Happening
Despite the first launch of Black Friday deals, retailers know that traditions die hard. Shoppers will still wake up early on November 25 and find deals as they begin (or continue!) their holiday shopping — many retailers are keeping store hours dark on Friday (opens in a new tab). And retail professionals still point to CyberMonday for great deals on technology.
“You’ll be able to find deals in all categories, but the categories to really look out for are technology, like laptops, TVs, and video game bundles; small household appliances, such as robotic vacuums and countertop gadgets; beauty products, and fall clothing and footwear,” notes smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of TrueTrae.com.
A specialist in deals Andrea Woroch focuses heavily on Black Friday deals, advising shoppers to look for free gift cards and extra rewards on Black Friday. Target, for example, offers a free $10 gift card for every $50 spent on Legos.
“You can also get deep discounts on gift cards from restaurants and stores like Amazon, which offer cash or an additional bonus card with a purchase that ends up being like two gifts in one,” says Woroch.
In addition, “look out for deals on personal gadgets, video game consoles, smart home appliances, big-screen TVs and small kitchen gadgets,” says Woroch. “You can also find doormats in selected clothes like a PJ set, sweater or slippers.”
Better Shop Around
It’s a given to know your values going into your hunt, but in the excitement of the chase, sometimes people forget.
“You’re going to want to shop locally for a number of reasons,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews. “Firstly, to make sure you’re getting the best value, obviously, but also to see that other retailers are offering more benefits with their deals. For example, many may offer a product at the same price, but you may be able to save more with coupons, discounts, or store credit, which can push one retailer ahead of the others and ensure you’ll save even more. .”
Smart Buyers Have a Backup Plan
While Overstocks have been a problem for retailers this year, out of stock can still be a problem for consumers, especially for popular items (toys on Cyber Monday, for example). The 2021 warnings of massive shortages due to supply chain disruptions (remember those?) didn’t pan out, but it’s still a good idea to carry a backup plan for your holiday shopping.
“Whether you’re worried about merchandise or discounts you don’t need, it’s good to have a backup plan in place,” says Ramhold. “That way, you have something to consider if your first choice doesn’t work out for whatever reason, and you won’t have to worry about buying big sales and possibly buying something you’ll regret later. “
Panic buying can force you to buy something you didn’t want to buy or force you out of your financial comfort zone. Or both.
Use Cashback Apps and Browser Extensions
Honing your cybershopping skills can save you money.
Ramhold says, “Since inflation affects prices, using cashback apps and browser extensions is one way to make sure you save at least a little on your purchases. Even if the prices are on the low side, if you use the apps and extensions enough the returns will add up over time and you could get a significant check at the end of the season.”
Woroch notes that sellers may inflate the actual price to make the deal look like a better value “so arm yourself with information and do a little homework,” he says.
Here is his guidance:
- Review price histories using CamelCamelCamel.com to see what an item has sold for before, up to 120 days in advance.
- Compare competitor prices using the InaniBlink tool so you don’t miss any of the best deals, even on sites you wouldn’t think to check.
- Beware of knock-off doorbusters — off-brand electronics or models made for Black Friday may be missing key parts and features or made of cheap materials to keep prices low. Research potential purchases (by model number, I mean) to find out if you’ve been given a whole year. Reviews on trusted sites can help you make sure you’re getting what you’re looking for.
- Compare Black Friday coupons in one place using a deal aggregator like CouponCabin.com.
- Be careful about discount promotions – if you’re giving away a gift, for example, you probably won’t be able to claim it if you have to do something like cut out the barcode on the product packaging. Instead, choose a small discount from a retailer that offers instant savings and get a discount by using a cashback app like Download Rewards that gives you free gift cards for taking pictures of your receipts.
- Set up sales alerts using Paypal Honey Droplist (opens in a new tab) or SlickDeals and track the price down even after you buy using in Paris (opens in a new tab)as you may be eligible for a price adjustment through the store or credit card you purchased with.
- Skip credit card offers at the store – they have high interest rates and expensive fees, low credit limits rarely exceed the rewards offered, which are often linked to that merchant. It is better to use common usage cash back card which can give you more back over the entire holiday season than any amount you can save on a single purchase.
What to Avoid on Black Friday
Not everything is affordable on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, of course. We’ve already given you the tools to find out what seems like a good buy indeed good buy. Here are a few things to skip on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday:
Avoid buying clothes, beauty and shoes on Black Friday. This is best done on Cyber Monday “with many site sales (look for coupon codes for extra savings via text alerts, email newsletters or coupon sites),” says Woroch.
Then there are the things you absolutely have to wait for. “Toys will be marked down again in the last two weeks of December and winter clothes are cheaper in the last few days before Christmas, and after.” Stop shopping for bedding and linens on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, says Woroch. Better deals will come next year – during the January “white sale.”
Department stores and fancy shopping malls have become common haunts for emerging shoppers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But Bodge says think outside that box — and go to a big box store.
“If you’re at Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, check their ad circulars to see what they’re doing for Cyber Weekend,” Bodge said. “They often have deep discounts on technology, and clothing. They also have large gift baskets that can be divided into smaller gifts.”
We are constantly updating our list of the best things to buy at dollar storesand smart shoppers should make it their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping destination.
“If you haven’t been to one recently, you might be surprised to find an abundance of holiday gifts, never mind wrapping paper, gift bags, bows and decorations,” says Bodge. “Maybe they won’t have Black Friday deals, but their prices are so low they won’t care.”
Cyber Monday is the latest of two big days to kick off holiday shopping. It got its name, courtesy of the National Retail Federation, in 2005, and has been a staple of the holiday season ever since.
But it can also be a dive into shopping if you’re new to it, don’t know your prices, or are perhaps overly cautious about buying technology online. Here are some Cyber Monday shopping tips from Woroch:
- Save payment and shipping information on the sites (perhaps by creating an account) in advance you can enter the best-selling items that may be sold.
- Set up sales alerts using Honey’s DropList for items to sell at different times of the day.
- Install browser tools like Later automatically add coupons and cash back.
- Avoid delivery delays and possible order cancellations by opting in buy online and pick up in store. Many retailers, including Walmart and The targetthey create areas in the store area dedicated specifically to BOPIS – buy online, pick up in store – consumers.
- Find out if your credit card is on sale bonus cash back or extra points at selected stores.
- Be aware of small free shipping designed to get you to buy more. Shop at stores that offer it free shipping with no minimum.
- Review return policies to avoid restocking fees and return shipping fees.
- Keep your data safe! Buy from a secure network, buy only from trusted sellers you know and don’t click on links in emails you don’t know.
- Track online orders to avoid package theft. Often, sellers will provide tracking numbers that you can use on major delivery company sites. You can also use the Delivery app.