The Black Friday shopping season is one of the most anticipated times of the year for some of us, with our minds racing with the prospect of getting the best deal possible on a new television, smart speaker, printer, or high-tech device.
However, as you can imagine, the year 2021 will present some unique challenges, including significant shortages in some product categories—yes, we’re talking about you, laptop computers and gaming consoles—as well as higher shipping costs and longer delivery times for items purchased online in the first place.
Consumers will have to decide whether to buy early to ensure they get the items they want, or whether to wait until closer to Black Friday to take advantage of the best deals. Given that many of the largest retailers plan to kick off their holiday sales weeks earlier, there is also no clear guidance on timing.
The recent increase in infections and hospitalizations in some areas of the country, combined with new COVID variations, suggests that some of us will be reducing our in-store purchasing and instead opting to shop online. In the meanwhile, according to industry observers, increased levels of vaccinations and some in-store mask laws may mean that more people will feel safe walking into stores this year than they did last year for the more traditional Black Friday shopping.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that many of the products that appear to be wonderful bargains aren’t as good as they appear to be—and you don’t want to be fooled by all of the marketing hype.
Our 7 Black Friday shopping guidelines will guide you through the process of finding the best deals while keeping aggravation and overspending to a minimal.
1 Get started as soon as possible
Analysts we spoke with agreed that starting to shop early this year will be a wise approach, not only because deals will be available earlier, but also because popular items may sell out rapidly or fail to arrive at your doorstep in a timely fashion.
There are certain things for which you should not wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to shop. Any of the newest gaming consoles, such as the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S and Series X, or the Nintendo Switch OLED, will be difficult to come by, and it is unlikely that we will see any discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday anyhow.
Toys, in general, are another thing that experts recommend that parents buy early in the year. Manufacturers warned this summer that there might be stock shortages this holiday season, so it’s best to pre-order toys that aren’t yet available and acquire the ones you’re interested in as soon as they become available.
Except for higher-end graphics cards and gaming consoles is a little more optimistic about shortages. If you are looking for something in a category where there are alternatives to a single model, such as computers or televisions, you should be able to locate something. Pricing will be the most significant concern for the majority of consumers this year, owing to both the significantly higher costs of goods and the significantly lower levels of promotional activity.
We anticipate that several major retailers will begin their sales campaigns early this year, as they have done in previous years. In the case of Amazon, the company is already conducting what it refers to as “Black Friday-worthy” bargains across a variety of product categories.
Target has previously announced that its first “Deal Days” of the year will take place from October 10 to 12, both in-store and online, starting on October 10.
Retail giant Walmart will make an announcement later this month regarding its plans for early Black Friday shopping. This time last year, the retailing behemoth hosted three different “Deals for Days” events during November, with bargains beginning online and then migrating to physical locations throughout the country.
2 Skip the in-store sales and do your shopping online instead
While there will most likely be a few more in-store promotions this year than there were last year, analysts anticipate that there will be less than there were prior to the pandemic. Furthermore, many companies are offering many of the same incentives that they do in-store online. A significant amount of focus will be placed on online shopping, with either free delivery or ship-to-store programs that allow customers to pick up their purchases at a convenient location.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen promotional activity spread across all retail channels—even before the pandemic. This year, shops may possibly notice an increase in online promotion immediately following Thanksgiving, as they attempt to entice disinterested Black Friday shoppers. We believe that the days of insane Black Friday early promotions that were only available in-store are over, or at the very least on their way out.
Several large shops, including as Best Buy, Costco, Target, and Walmart, have already declared that they will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, as has been done in the past. In order to find out what types of incentives they’ll be offering throughout the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend for both in-store and online buyers, we’ll have to wait and watch.
3 Make use of internet and mobile applications
You must track costs in the weeks leading up to Black Friday in order to determine how fantastic the offers actually are during crunch time. The same can be said for Cyber Monday, which has grown into a week-long celebration of internet deals. However, you are not required to compare costs from retailer to retailer. You can also use Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, and Shopzilla to find the best deals. You may scan bar codes or QR codes in stores using smartphone apps such as BuyVia, Shopkick, ShopSavvy and Shopular. This allows you to compare prices, obtain discounts and find coupons while you’re in the store.
Now, there are dozens of websites that publish leaked—and authorized—Black Friday advertisements. We keep an eye on BestBlackFriday.com, DealNews, TheBlackFriday.com, Deals Plus/BlackFriday.fm, and GottaDeal for the best deals on Black Friday. Sign up for offer alerts, which you can usually filter by product category if you want to save time.
In addition, retailers such as Amazon, BestBuy, Target, and Walmart offer their own shopping applications for their customers to use. Amazon’s mobile app, for example, allows you to scan products and compare prices online using your smartphone’s built-in camera. (After you’ve finished shopping, uninstall any apps that you aren’t currently using to ensure your privacy and security.)
Direct comparison shopping, on the other hand, can be extremely difficult in the run-up to Black Friday. The best prices frequently include models that are either not available at other sites or were not available earlier in the year. Here are a couple of quick pointers:
• Make use of browser add-ons. These are little pieces of software that may be added to web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox to allow you to modify your browsing experience while browsing the internet. For example, applications such as CamelCamelCamel and Honey allow you to utilize your web browser to view pricing history, receive price alerts, and print coupons for any product you purchase online using a web browser.
• Create a shopping cart by placing things in it. Put an item in your shopping cart if you notice an offer you like, as doing so will allow you to complete your order more quickly. Followed by a look around at various other retailers’ websites to determine whether or not the pricing is indeed a bargain. If this is the case, proceed to the checkout. Just keep in mind that some retailers, such as Amazon, require you to be logged in in order for shopping cart items to be saved, and that placing an item in your cart does not reserve it; you must place your order and receive confirmation that it has been received before an item is considered reserved.
4 Make use of customer loyalty programs
Store loyalty programs frequently provide members with early access to coupons, deals, and promotions, after which they can earn rewards based on their purchases. So sign up for Black Friday shopping notifications to stay on top of the latest deals. There are some instances when you can even check to see if the things you desire are in stock or if they are eligible to be purchased online and picked up in store, which can save you money on shipping.
5 Engage on social media
The Facebook pages, Instagram postings, and Twitter feeds of your favorite merchants are excellent places to learn about new products, sales, and promotions. Customers who like or follow a retailer’s social media accounts are frequently rewarded with special alerts about Black Friday discounts and incentives. As for sharing Black Friday shopping insider information with pals, texting, tweeting, and posting on social media platforms are all excellent options.
6 Establish a financial plan and adhere to it
Yes, this appears to be straightforward. However, Black Friday bargains, particularly the doorbuster specials that are only available in limited quantities, are intended to get you into a store or online shopping so that the retailer may sell you products you didn’t mean to purchase in the first place. It’s very easy to become swept up in the excitement and wind up overspending or purchasing stuff that you don’t really need. Predict how much you’ll spend on your Black Friday shopping spree in advance, and make every effort to avoid making rash purchases, especially when you’re not sure how good a deal is.
With the increase in online shopping, we will see an increase in the number of people who use credit cards to make purchases. Several cards will double the manufacturer’s warranty, which is a significant advantage. However, be cautious when it comes to interest-free incentives offered by shop credit cards. The terms of the agreement are fine if you are disciplined enough to pay off the balance before the promotional period expires; however, if you fail to do so, you will be stuck paying interest on the entire amount of the purchase, even if you have paid off a significant portion of the balance already.
7 Make sure you are aware of all of the store’s policies in advance
It’s usually a good idea to be familiar with a retailer’s price-matching and return policies. This year, we anticipate that more retailers would price match certain bargains. Most large shops have some type of price-matching policy in place, and they’ve been expanding their offerings practically year after year.
Shoppers who purchase anything from Target between October 10 and December 24 will be allowed to seek a price adjustment if the item’s price reduces later in the season, as has already been revealed. Furthermore, Target has stated that it will maintain its policy of matching select competitors’ pricing within 14 days of a customer’s receipt of goods.
Some stores, though, may stop their price-match pledges on specific items throughout the Black Friday weekend, so be sure to check the fine print before making your purchase. Check the return and exchange policies for Black Friday sales to make sure that the store will not charge you a restocking fee for any items you return after the sale has ended.