The Ultimate Black Friday and Cyber Monday Guide: What You Should and Shouldn’t Buy
Little did the pilgrims know that Thanksgiving would serve up something far more valuable than turkey, vegetables and gravy.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearly upon us, two shopping holidays that have, over the past decade captured our collective attention.
Once we’ve packed in the last spoonful of mashed potatoes and cut our last slice of pumpkin pie, we’re swept away from the I’m-thankful-for moments about as quickly as mom whisks the Thanksgiving dishes away so eager relatives can sit down with their phones and tablets and scour the internet for the best bargains.
But which bargains are actually best? Which stores are offering the deepest discounts? Which items should you buy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and which ones should you wait on?
These are the questions that all of us confront during our post-turkey shopping excursions and, with the help of retail experts, we found the answers you need.
But before we get into the do’s and don’ts of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we want to show you some data via Sarah Hollenbeck at Offers.com, a consumer-focused retail savings site that does retail research on holiday spending, among other things.
According to Offers.com’s data, more people will shop at Amazon.com than any other website or brick-and-mortar store in the country. Here’s a quick overview of the top five stores/sites that American consumers will visit during the holidays:
Hollenbeck went on to tell us that, according to her site’s research, clothing is the most popular item to buy on the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving. Electronics follow, then gift cards, toys and video games and/or video game equipment and consoles.
Now that we’ve set the table with the overall numbers, let’s dive into the feast that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Don’t Buy the New iPhone on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
You’re eager to buy the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X and retailers know it. Come the day after Thanksgiving, all those ads you find in Google searches are going to convince that now is the time to buy.
Coupon Sherpa savings expert Kendal Perez told us that retailers like Target, Best Buy and Walmart will try to reel you in with gift card offers. Not worth it, she said.
“Retail site Dealnews suggests better deals will arrive in December and in 2018,” she said.
Don’t Buy Winter Clothing on Black Friday
Clothing is the number one purchase on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but, ironically, winter clothing is one of the things that Hollenbeck says we should avoid purchasing.
“Avoid buying winter apparel this Black Friday, as you can find greater deals in the coming months,” Hollenbeck said. “We have seen deals as high as 80%-off on winter clothes in January of recent years as retailers become anxious to clear out inventory to make way for spring fashion.”
Do Buy TV’s and Certain Electronics on Black Friday
Electronics are the second most popular item to buy in the 96 hours after Thanksgiving and for good reason.
Mike Catania, CTO of PromotionCode.org, says the TV deals you’ll find on Black Friday are cheaper than they are on Cyber Monday and significantly reduced compared to the rest of the last three months of the year.
“TV deals reign supreme on Black Friday. You’ll pay about 10% less than you would on Cyber Monday and between 20% and 30% less than during the rest of the fourth quarter,” Catania said.
He went on to point out that offers for ultra high-def (UHD) TV’s are surging.
Catania also told us this bit of insider information: certain electronics brands will be cheaper on Black Friday than they will on Cyber Monday.
“The brands that have historically been at their lowest prices on Black Friday are HP, Lenovo, Acer and Toshiba,” he said.
Don’t Buy Engagement Rings on Black Friday
As if the deals on Black Friday weren’t dazzling enough, jewelers tend to push sparkling sales in their glittering display cases.
Hollenbeck says that, while there may be sales on Black Friday, the best deals usually pop up around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
But that’s not all, says diamond expert Dan Moran, founder of Los Angeles-based Concierge Diamonds, Inc.
Moran said jewelers tend to raise prices leading up to Black Friday then offer “discounts” based on those inflated prices. These sales may also be a way for dealers to unload less-than-quality stones.
“If you purchase a diamond or engagement ring at 50% off retail during a Black Friday sale, the piece or the diamond was either marked up extravagantly to begin with or it’s a garbage stone or ring and someone is desperately trying to get rid of it,” Moran said.
In other words, guys and ladies, don’t let post-Thanksgiving feels lure you into an engagement-ring purchase.
“Don’t’ be fooled into thinking that you’re getting a good deal just because there’s a fire sale,” Moran said. “An engagement ring should be something that’s a considered purchase and you can’t make a considered purchase with the pressure of a one-day sale manipulating your decision-making process.”
Do Shop for Travel on Cyber Monday
Hollenbeck says that many of the top travel sites offer slashed fares and rates on Cyber Monday, a great thing for consumers who are late in booking travel for Christmas and the New Year.
Don’t Wake Up at the Crack of Dawn for Doorbusters
Doorbuster deals were, for a time, a sensation among shoppers who were willing to overcome their food comas and wake up before the sun rose to snag that incredible deal on a large-screen TV.
However, the comical litany of doorbuster fist fights and hair-grabbing tussles has given doorbusters a bad name and, rightly so, Hollenbeck said.
“We looked at Amazon reviews for doorbusters featured last year and found that many had ratings of 3-stars or less,” she said. “Don’t be fooled by companies offering these kinds of deals – do your research online to see if those products are really worth the money.”
But that’s just Amazon items. In-store doorbusters are in short supply and lead to those Lord-of-the-Flies moments where a TV is fought for as if it were the last electronic device on earth.
Natasha Rachel Smith, a consumer affairs expert at TopCashBack.com, says these items are purposely in short supply to draw in shoppers.
“Hot-ticketed items or items included in doorbuster deals for the holiday seasons are purchased on Thanksgiving and Black Friday because of their sale prices,” she said. “However, shoppers become frustrated by the concept of low-stock items that could potentially sell out in seconds.”
Do Make a List and Plan Ahead
Before you even open your first app or step into the car to drive to your first store, make a list, Perez told us.
Write down what you want and where you’re going to buy it; doing so is like kryptonite to those doorbuster sales that cry for your attention.
“It’s easy to get distracted by all the discounts offered on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so it’s important to make a list of what you need,” Perez said.
App’s like Santa’s Bag and Christmas Gift List are two ways to build a holiday list you can use to organize and track purchases.