Black Friday. Cyber Monday. These dates stick in our minds as the best time of the year to get a great deal on anything we want to buy. The truth is that while many retailers offer great prices – and maybe even their lowest prices of the year – on certain items during Thanksgiving and Cyber Week, not everything is marked down to an all-time low. Some products will be cheaper another time of year; some popular buys aren’t even on sale.
Read this smart shopper’s guide to find out what to buy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020, what to skip if you truly want the lowest price, and additional tips for saving money during Thanksgiving holiday sales.
What to Buy on Black Friday
The general rule of thumb is that electronics are the thing to buy on Black Friday. Michael Bonebright, consumer analyst at DealNews, reports “this year in particular, there are great television deals, especially big-screen TVs (42 inches and above).” He specifically calls out a 50-inch television at Best Buy for $150, which matches last year’s Black Friday prices and is a real deal.
“Things that help you kill time at home” – like board games and headphones – will also be on sale on Black Friday 2020. “Legos are huge this year,” Bonebright says. “There are so many Lego deals, up to 50 percent off.” He’s also seeing a few fitness trackers and smart watches on sale, as people use their time at home to get in shape.
In addition, factory refurbished products, from retailers like Apple and Amazon, are typically discounted off the price of new products, but the prices tend to drop even further on Black Friday. Bonebright notes that eBay is a good place to find refurbished product deals on Black Friday. Look for the eBay storefronts of brands like Best Buy and Dyson to get deals on refurbs and factory seconds during the holidays.
Cyber Monday will have its own deals, so it’s worth checking out those sales, even if you already shopped Black Friday. In the past, video games, toys, and clothing have been hot Cyber Monday buys.
“Cyber Monday is generally a great time to find deals on travel including airline bookings and hotel stays,” says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “I typically see good deals available through third party booking sites, but you can also check a favorite airline or hotel brand’s site directly to see what types of offers you can get.”
This year, if you’re purchasing travel on Cyber Monday or Travel Tuesday, it might be best to book directly with a provider and look for refundable pricing. The farther out in 2021, you can plan your travels, the better.
Woroch also notes that you can find great deals on more unexpected purchases, such as “spa treatments, medical services like dental care, gym memberships, and streaming services.”
Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday are typically days when travel aggregators, such as Travelocity, offer coupons and discounts. This year, the travel industry is hurting for business, so Bonebright predicts deals will abound. (However, if you’re purchasing travel this year for 2021, make your book refundable fares and buy travel insurance.)
In general, experts predict robust discounts spread throughout November and likely into December as businesses try to recoup sales lost earlier in the year.
What Not to Buy on Black Friday
If your goal is getting the absolutely best deal, and not simply getting holiday gifts at a reasonable price, you should know that certain categories of goods are not greatly discounted on Black Friday.
“Generally speaking, you want to avoid winter gear and apparel like coats and boots, holiday decorations and even gift wrap,” warns Woroch. “Although you may see a small savings of 10 to 20% off some of this merchandise, the real deals come closer to Christmas or after the holiday.”
If it’s holiday decorations you’re after, the discounts start the week of Christmas, with the best savings after the holiday. If you want to save, buy your gift wrap, bags, and twinkle lights after Christmas to save for next year’s celebrations. However, you might find specific items on sale during Black Friday. For example, Woroch found a Home Depot Black Friday special on a 7.5-foot pre-lit Fenwick pine artificial Christmas tree for $79, marked down from $199.
Gift cards are best purchased in December, winter apparel and sporting gear at the end of the season, and linens in January. However in 2020, some restaurants are offering extra gift card bonuses for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Black Friday Money-Saving Tips
Retail experts have plenty of tips for saving during Black Friday and Thanksgiving week than just knowing what is best to buy.
Maximize your credit cards.
Pay for your Black Friday purchases with credit cards that give you rewards points or cash back, so you are profiting from your shopping expenses. Or, sign up for a new card right before Black Friday, and use your holiday shopping to earn a bonus. For example, Woroch points to the Chase Freedom card, which is offering $200 back for new cardholders who spend $500 in the first three months.
A doorbuster deal looks even better when you can use coupons to knock a few more dollars off the price. Many retailers issue coupons that are good on Black Friday. Woroch recommends a browser tool like Cently, which automatically finds the best coupons to use on your online order, or bookmarking coupon sites, such as CouponFollow.com, so you can find discounts on the spot as you make your Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchases.
Check online for holiday deals from local businesses.
“You’d be surprised how many local businesses have Facebook pages or Instagram accounts and offer Black Friday deals online,” says Bonebright. Not only do you get a great deal, but you’re supporting local businesses and not just big box stores during a challenging time for retailers. Look for gift card offers to support establishments you might not be going to now, but will want to in the future.
Small Business Saturday is promoted by AMEX, so cardholders should look for additional discounts or incentives when buying from small businesses, using their credit card, during Thanksgiving week.
Share receipts to earn money.
Free cash back apps, like Swagbucks, Ibotta or Fetch Rewards, give you points for uploading receipts from your Black Friday (and year-round) shopping trips. You can redeem the points for gift cards to stores, such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon, which either make great free gifts or will help you spend less on future winter sales.
Top 2020 Black Friday deals
Here are some of the best deals we’ve seen for Black Friday and related sales this year. Note that pricing and availability are expected to change throughout the month, and that some deals will be offered early and others beginning Thanksgiving week or on Black Friday itself.
Amazon Black Friday deals
Best Buy Black Friday deals
- The Samsung HW-T510 soundbar will be on sale for $130, which is half off.
- You can save $150 on a Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Pro vacuum ($400).
- Best Buy will be selling a TCL 55-inch Android TV for $250, very similar to previous Black Friday prices.
Target Black Friday Deals
- Jaybird Vista True Wireless Headphones will be $99.99, nearly half off.
- Women’s and children’s clothing, starting at $4.
- Target is matching Amazon’s pricing on many items, but with a later sale start date, so shoppers who miss out on Amazon, could have a second chance at Target.
Walmart Black Friday deals
- New gaming consoles will be in stock, including Oculus Quest 2 ($299), PS5 ($499) and Xbox Series X ($499).
- The Apple Watch Series 3 GPS will be $60 off.
- The Vizio 70-inch Class 4K UHD SmartCast TV will be on sale for $478, the lowest price of the season.
- Video games are discounted, with some games as cheap as $20 and several lower than competitors’ prices.
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