A fresh wave of COVID-19 lockdowns have shuttered stores and restaurants, but that doesn’t mean that Black Friday deals are shut down. They’re out there, and whether you’re buying online or willing and able to brave the crowds, there are deals to search for as well as ones to avoid.
Before you firm up your list and whip out your credit card, it’s important to make every dollar work as hard as it can — especially if the coronavirus has put a squeeze on your wallet. Figuring out if you should get that gift card now or in a few weeks can go a long way to maximizing your holiday budget.
The good news: So many sales are starting early that you can snap up some great deals right now — without even having to brave lines and crowds.
The bad: It can be tricky to figure out what sales to pass up. What’s slightly discounted now might be deeply discounted in a few weeks, and you never want to pay more than you have to.
Best things to buy on Black Friday
Shhh, here’s an insider tip: Retailers tend to stock up on kitchen gadgets ahead of the holidays… and they need some way to get rid of that inventory quickly. That’s why Black Friday is a great time to look for deals on smart cookers, coffee makers, blenders, toaster ovens, air fryers and more.
One kitchen staple that’s bound to be on sale for Black Friday: stand mixers. If they aren’t on sale by Black Friday, you can generally count on snapping up a deal on Cyber Monday; do not be surprised if KitchenAid, for example, put some of their iconic models on sale then, as they did in 2019 and in 2018.
If you’re looking for a new set of headphones, a laptop or a smart watch, Black Friday may be the time to snap up the best deals as long as you don’t have your heart set on a specific model. Apple traditionally launches a huge sales event starting on Black Friday and lasting for four days. The brand — not exactly known for deals or low-end options during most of the year — even tends to put its gift cards on sale during that window. That said, many other electronics deals may come from lesser-known brands.
These deals often send waves through a whole retail sector, with rival brands striving to match prices. That goes not only for gift cards, but also TVs, TV accessories, smart speakers (last year saw a great deal on HomePods), smart phones, security devices, older video games and more. Big-box retailers tend to highlight these deals in their Black Friday ad buys.
Full disclosure: We mean getaways with restricted windows of travel, here, not year-long options. Last year, many airlines and travel companies, including Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Southwest Vacations and Expedia, all offered fare sales for specific dates.
If you don’t find a great travel deal on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, that may not be your fault. Every year there’s a whole day that the travel industry designates as its sweet spot: It’s Travel Tuesday, and it traditionally happens — you guessed it — the day after Cyber Monday.
Worst things to buy on Black Friday
Yes, you may snag a great deal on a gift card during the Black Friday period. (We did say that Apple has put its gift cards on sale.) But in general, ’tis not the season to be spending a lot of time searching for gift-card deals.
Historically, the best time to find a gift-card deal is about a month later, around Christmastime. In the past, for example, Apple’s music service has offered Christmas-timed deals on gift cards. If you can afford to hold out, do it.
By all means, if you need a new bed, sofa or coffee table and you spot a good deal on Black Friday, snap it up. But if you’re searching for furniture deals in general, this time of year isn’t the best, and the deepest discounts historically do not pop up the week of Thanksgiving.
Most furniture sales happen just after a specific season. The end of winter tends to be the best time to pick up indoor furniture deals, and outdoor furniture tends to go on sale as fall begins to roll around. Furniture retailers also have their own Black Fridays — Presidents’ Day, which is nowhere near Thanksgiving.
The hottest new gaming consoles
Let’s face it: If you have a teenager or adolescent who plays video games, the latest Playstation has likely made it to a holiday wish list. Retailers will likely have fresh, but limited, stock of the elusive PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X… but don’t expect a Black Friday deal on that coveted item.
That said, if you’re in the market for an older console, here’s what you should know: Retailers like to bundle older models with specific games over the Black Friday period. For example, in 2019 Target paired a PS4 console with three games — “The Last of Us,” “Horizon Zero Dawn” and “God of War” — amounting to a $100 discount. That’s only a deal if you’re loved one also wants those games.