This year, there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means a shorter holiday shopping blitz, beginning in earnest on Black Friday.
“It’s been a very interesting November,” says Casey Runyan, managing editor of Brad’s Deals, a discount tracking website. “I’ve never seen this volume of Black Friday-worthy pricing actually coming out early.”
So if that rush is adding to your stress levels, consider this Black Friday shopping guide.
1. The best TV deals
Shoppers should use caution when it comes to some of the Black Friday doorbusters on televisions, Runyan said.
“They’re on sort of outdated technology, and so it may sound like a really good deal, but if you spent a little bit more, you would actually be a lot happier with your purchase,” the Elgin native said.
Her top Black Friday TV deals?
At Best Buy, a 70-inch Samsung 4K Smart TV with high dynamic range, or HDR, is selling for $549.99, or $350 off the previous $899.99 price.
Her other pick is a 65-inch Vizio 4K ultrahigh definition, or UHD, TV for $599.99 at Costco (was $629.97).
In terms of discounts, Black Friday is one of the best times of the year to buy a 4K TV, according to Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at BlackFriday.com. Shoppers can expect $100 off and much more on high-end sets, with Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Amazon featuring the most impressive discounts, McGrath said via email.
“Don’t stop at the price tag. Check the model number and look it up online to be sure you’re not getting a low-quality model or derivative model made just for Black Friday,” McGrath said. “Looking up the model number also tells you if you’re looking at an older TV set the retailer just wants to unload.”
2. Trendy products
There’s still plenty of hype around the Instant Pot, a pressure cooker and slow cooker in one. Walmart has a standard model for $49.
“With most kitchen appliances, I would say Black Friday is the time to buy,” Runyan said.
In the circulars, retailers also are promoting weighted blankets and at deeper discounts than in 2018.
“Last year, one of the breakout hits was weighted blankets, but the interesting thing was it was sort of a new trend,” Runyan said.
As for kid wish lists, “Baby Shark” merchandise and Scruff-a-Luv electronic pets are among the most popular toys, Runyan said.
Newcomers in the trendy mystery toy genre are Blume Dolls and Poopsie Surprise kits, according to an annual BlackFriday.com list of the hottest holiday toys. But shoppers will find more savings on toys and games that aren’t in such high demand, McGrath said.
3. Stick to the list
Above all else, do your research. Plan what you’re going to buy — when and where — to keep your impulses in check during the Thanksgiving weekend.
Retailers “may be changing up some of the offers day to day,” Runyan said.
“So it’s important to take note, if you’re really wanting to be very aggressive in your Black Friday shopping, to make sure that you know when the different sales are starting. And I recommend using calendar reminders or just making a list.”
4. Compare prices
McGrath recommends using a price comparison tool such as camelcamelcamel for Amazon to know if you’re actually getting the best deal.
“And stay focused on the sticker price — not the advertised discount,” she said. “A retailer might advertise a dramatic 75% off, but the original price might be a price it has never offered,” she said. “That 75% off might simply be a few bucks off the usual price — or even the same price you might find at an online retailer.”
5. Online perks
At the start of the month, Target announced free shipping on online orders through Dec. 21, with no minimum purchase required.
“There’s lots of other retailers that are doing similar things, where they’re either lowering their threshold for free shipping or just having entirely free shipping to encourage people to shop with them,” Runyan said.
But make sure your gifts will arrive for free in time for the holidays, McGrath said, or look into the retailer’s buy-online-pick-up-in-store option.
“Yes, you have to make a trip to the store,” she said. “But the retailer will likely bag up your purchases for you and have it ready for you at a designated pickup kiosk — and you won’t have to pay for expedited shipping if you order last minute.”