Due to our current times and personal situations, many of us will likely stay local for the holidays this year. Less air travel, less IRL time with the fam. And probably not too many festive gatherings in physical locales.
Sure, Black Friday historically has been a time to snag sweet travel deals. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t be making the most of it this year — for your tribe, and for yourself (self-care, we hear you calling).
We reached out to some deals experts—Julie Ramhold, an analyst at DealNews and Regina Conway of SlickDeals—for their insights and tips. Here’s what to buy on Black Friday, what to skip, and tips to score big this season.
- What to buy on Black Friday
- What not to buy on Black Friday (save that money, yo)
- Tips for making the most of your dollars
- Plan your attack
What to buy on Black Friday
1. A new smartphone, so you can make some contemporary art with your older models.
New phone, who this? If you’ve been itching to get an upgrade on your phone, Black Friday might be the time to do it. Experts at DealNews predict the Apple iPhone SE could potentially drop to $120, whereas up to $200 could be shaved off the Google Pixel 5. Some models, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, might also come with a free set of earbuds. Boom.
2. The New Amazon Echo to impress your cat and internet friends.
If you’re a nerd for the newest tech gadgets, we have good news: You can expect to find killer deals for the new, 3rd generation Amazon Echo, where the $100 retail price tag could be slashed to $60, according to our friends at DealNews. Plus, Amazon smart plugs could go as low as $5 a pop, and smart displays might drop to $55.
3. That sous vide to impress friends with your master egg-boiling capabilities.
Yes, you can be a fancy person and cook fancy things in that sous vide. Small, tabletop appliances are bound to be on sale. Might as well toss in a microwave while you’re at it. Pro tip: look for in-store rebates from major retailers, or scour Google Shopping for the best deals, says Ramhold.
4. An air fryer to play up your mad chef skills — in under five minutes.
An air fryer is a small, countertop device that’s essentially a convection oven to fry up your food, without soaking it in oil. And it’s magical. You can use it to cook veggies and meat and load up on quick and easy snacks during the holidays. Plus, it makes you look healthy and fancy. Win-win!
5. Another physical copy of Animal Crossing in case the one you already have breaks.
If you’re a gamer, the pandemic probably upped your screen time exponentially.
Especially with new consoles rolling out the second week of November, Black Friday is a great time to swoop up on deals on current models, says Conway. Nintendo Games could cost as little as $14, and Nintendo Switch Lite Consoles might drop to as low as $175, according to DealNews.
6. LEGOs so your kids can chill and turn into little builders.
While you probably want to hold on buying kids’ toys—we’ll get to that in just a bit —LEGOs are quite an exception. Why? They’re timeless, they’re well-loved, and according to DealNews, you might even snag a set up to 50% off. In the case of LEGOs, it’s better to scoop up on deals now than wait until December.
7. A more massive TV than what you already have, because your eyesight has worsened from being on the computer all day.
Want to upsize your old TV to a fancier, larger one? Black Friday has been known to be one of the best times to shop for electronics of all sorts, and TVs are no exception. Hopefully, prices will drop to $700 or less, explains Ramhold. In the past, the average Black Friday price of TVs 32” and below is as low as $95.
8. A better, speedier laptop to binge watch your favorite shows and get work done.
Besides TVs, laptops are probably the other most popular category for Black Friday shopping, points out Ramhold. According to DealNews, Macbooks bought directly from Apple will most likely be bundled with gift cards. And budget Windows laptops might drop all the way down to $200.
9. Chromebooks so you can balance it on one leg while sipping eggnog.
If you use the computer for low-key tasks like browsing the internet, checking email, and downloading files, then a Chromebook might do the trick. They’re lighter, more compact, and cost a lot less than high-powered laptops. As for price? They’ll probably drop as low as $99, says Ramhold.
10. Waist-up winter clothing so you can be fashionable for those Zoom holiday festivities.
Unlike summer attire or spring fling garb, Black Friday is one of the only times of year when you don’t have to shop out of season to save on clothing, explains Ramhold. (Nope, no two-piece bikini buys in November!) Per DealNews, you’ll probably be able to find women’s footwear for under $20, and kids’ clothing will be discounted up to 80%.
What not to buy on Black Friday (save that money, yo)
It’s tempting to scoop up what seems to be a killer deal. But upon taking a closer look, you might be better holding off and buying certain things another time. For instance, while you could shave off $50 on that skateboard, you can actually find a better deal if you sit tight for a few more weeks.
Here’s what you can probably scratch off your Black Friday shopping list:
1. Toys, so Santa’s List will have to wait.
Historically, the best deals on toys come the first few weeks of December, explains Conway. So buying LOL Surprises for your little ones in your life might have to wait a minute. “Obviously, if you need them sooner, and you find a price you’re willing to pay, there’s no reason not to go ahead and snag that new toy,” adds Ramhold.
2. Gift cards to stack those deep discounts.
You may spot some deals on gift cards, but here’s a little secret: December will come with better ones! If you choose to shop them during Black Friday anyway, do keep an eye out for 20% off gift cards from certain retailers, recommends Ramhold. You can also shop for them at a warehouse like Costco or Sam’s Club.
3. Fitness equipment, so you have a real-good-reason for waiting until the new year to get your exercise on.
Sure, you might have intentions to up your exercise routine at the end of the year, but retailers are keen on the fact that everyone jumps on the fitness train in January. Plus, since there has been a shortage of home gym equipment like dumbbells, hopefully the shelves will be better stocked come end of December or early January, says Ramhold.
4. Holiday decorations.
According to DealNews, these are historically marked down the most right after the holidays are over. So maybe it makes more sense to hang tight on getting that 8-foot inflatable snowman, after all.
5. Travel deals.
While there are bound to be some travel deals per usual—with all the travel restrictions in place due to Covid—things will undoubtedly be thrown off, according to DealNews. So, yeah, just…don’t.
Tips for making the most of your dollars
As you might know, it’s super-duper easy to go overboard during a mega sales event like Black Friday. Now that you know where to score sweet deals and what to avoid, here are a few extra tips to make your dollar go even farther:
1. Use discounted gift cards.
Gift card exchanges like CardCash and Raise offer gift cards at a reduced rate, explains Conway. We’re talking 10% to 20% off face value. This tactic will help you stack those savings even higher.
2. Set alerts.
Do your homework and set deal alerts for specific products. That way, you’ll be keen on a price drop — or error — right away. Check out a browser extension like Amazon Assistant or Honey to do a quick search on real-time deals on your wish list items.
3. Shop with a cash back app.
There are so many apps and browser extensions you can use to snag cash back for your purchases. For instance, Ibotta and Rakuten. It doesn’t hurt to use the app or extension each time you shop, as the savings can add up quickly, points out Ramhold. Some retailers also offer double cash back, so stay on the lookout!
4. Use price adjustments whenever you can.
While many stores will probably pause price matching and adjustments during Black Friday, that’s not always the case, says Ramhold. In the past, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Fry’s Electronics have matched competitor prices.
“Before lamenting that you could have saved an extra $10 or so by waiting to shop for another week, see if the store will adjust your price for you,” she says. “ If it’s at the same store where you bought the product, there’s a good chance they’ll be willing to work with you and refund you the difference.”
5. Join loyalty programs.
They’re almost always free, so why not? You can rack up points toward future purchases or receive early access to big sales events like Black Friday. Many retailers—think Nordstrom’s, Zara, Target and the like—have loyalty programs.
Bonus: these programs often send you rewards for your birthday or offer double earning opportunities. Just make sure to choose retailers that you love and shop frequently with.
Have a rewards credit card? Use it when you shop on Black Friday. Of course, just be sure to set a limit, and pay your bill in full each month.
6. Sign up for email newsletters.
Along the same lines as joining the loyalty programs, signing up for email newsletters for your favorite retailers can be worth the risk of inbox spam.
“Often new subscribers will receive a modest discount on their first purchase just for signing up, but some retailers will also send exclusive offers to their email subscribers,” says Ramhold. “That can amount to savings that really add up when you’re doing your holiday shopping.”
Plan your attack
If you’ve been waiting all year to scoop up some excellent discounts, the deal-seeker in you will certainly be satiated this Black Friday. But, to avoid the temptation of overspending, remember to plan your attack wisely.
One way to do this is to make a shopping plan and decide on your purchases ahead of time. And don’t forget to set a budget! It doesn’t hurt to do your research on what something might cost, and stick to that limit.
If it helps, choose only a few retailers to do the majority of your shopping. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of money in a short amount of time.
Remember: Your holiday shopping will probably be spread out during a course of several months, so be mindful and have tons of fun!