Black Friday arrived early this year, and new deals are flooding in at an almost overwhelming rate. As the retail sector struggles to stay afloat in an economy ravaged by COVID-19, stores are touting discounts on everything from bicycles to toaster ovens. Type in just about any item in your search bar followed by the word “sale,” and you risk falling into a veritable vortex of options. Retailers know all the tricks to get you to click, and they make it all too easy for even the savviest shopper to mistake a lukewarm offer for a red-hot savings opportunity.
Because looks can be deceiving, especially when someone is trying to sell you something, it’s important to be scrupulous when surfing these Black Friday sales. To help you save time and money, GOBankingRates consulted retail and personal finance experts to learn which products you’re better off buying later. If you can afford to wait, find out whether you’ll find stronger sales in January or later.
1. Holiday Decor
“It’s really tempting to shop for holiday decorations right now since obviously now is the best time to display said items; however, you’ll spend a fortune if you try to stock up on lights and inflatable snowmen before the end of December,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “If there’s a particular item you really want, it might be best to go ahead and grab it, especially if it’s something that could sell out. However, if you just want general decor options, keep an eye out starting on December 26 — or Christmas Day, in some cases. That’s when we’ll expect to see discounts up to 70% off or more. These sales will continue on through the first of the year, and while savings will increase, the selection will decrease.”
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2. Video Game Consoles
“Sometimes we can see really great deals on video game consoles, but this is not the year to expect those,” Ramhold said. “The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 were literally just released … so we can’t expect any deals on those yet for Black Friday. However, even older consoles like the Nintendo Switch aren’t part of any great deals that we’ve seen so far. In fact, they’re all basically list price this year, so unless you just need a console and don’t care about the cost, we’d say skip it.”
“Anything that sparkles will shine brighter at the beginning of the year instead of Black Friday since the deals will be ripe after the new year,” said Dana Marineau, chief marketing officer of Rakuten Rewards. “Mother’s Day and summer holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day are better seasons to score the biggest discounts on jewelry, including watches.”
“Toys are one of those categories that see plenty of deals for Black Friday, but if you don’t see what you’re looking for then, don’t worry. December should have a fair amount of toy deals, and as long as you’re shopping locally, you won’t have to worry about shipping delays,” Ramhold said. “However, if you’re searching for one of the hottest toys of the year and you see it on Black Friday — or sooner — it’s best to grab it right now. Waiting until December will only run the risk of it selling out and you’ll be forced to avoid it entirely or risk paying a huge markup from third-party sellers.”
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“We absolutely expect to see travel deals and sales for Black Friday, but travel is a tricky subject this year. Much of the industry is trying to recover from worldwide shutdowns, but it’s still an unstable field to shop,” Ramhold said. “If you must book a trip, try to do so by planning it for as far out as you can — think late next year at the absolute earliest. Either way, also be sure to check the cancellation policy very carefully. You’ll need to know the ins and outs if you have to cancel or postpone your trip. If you decide to purchase travel insurance, also be sure to note what it will cover, including changes due to things like COVID, shutdowns or travel lockdowns in general.”
7. Gift Cards
“Many retailers and restaurants will offer discounts or incentives to purchase their gift cards in December,” said Sara Korab, retail trends director at Savings.com. “Hold off on purchasing them on Black Friday to see if you can get a better deal in a couple of weeks.”
8. Golf Clubs
“Many people think of golf clubs as a great Christmas present, but waiting until spring to make a purchase may score you a much better deal. Think Father’s Day or Mother’s Day instead,” said Jeanette Pavini, personal finance expert and author. “As the golf season is in full swing, you will find deals on the prior year models as the new designs are released and hitting the stores. To save even more, look at resale sports shops like Play it Again Sports.”
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“Bedding is one item to wait to buy until January, where you can find discounts up to 70% off during the January White Sales event,” said Ben Reynolds, CEO and founder at Sure Dividend. “So, if you’re shopping for yourself, you might want to wait until January to save money.”
10. Certain Gaming Laptops
Gaming laptops are seeing some Black Friday sales action this year — but some of these deals are duds. When browsing, be mindful of red flags such as low storage capacity.
“The installation sizes of modern games have ballooned in recent years; sometimes they are more than 100GB for just one title. This is really putting a strain on laptop storage space. Many gaming laptops come with just 512GB (or even 256GB) solid-state drives by default, which you’ll find fill up very quickly,” said Matt Buzzi, hardware analyst at PCMag. “Opt for more storage where possible, even in a budget gaming laptop, so you won’t be frustrated by the need to uninstall games constantly in order to download and play new ones.”
11. Certain Budget Laptops
Budget laptops are another category with dazzling discounts this Black Friday/Cyber Monday, but some of the deals aren’t worth the hype. Check out the screen specs to be sure you’re not falling for a subpar product.
“One of the most unfortunate ways manufacturers cut costs is in screen quality. No matter how good the deal, try to avoid any laptop with a 13-inch or larger screen that has a native display resolution below 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, also known as 1080p,” said Tom Brant, hardware analyst at PCMag. “It’s less common than before, but a budget laptop with a 1,366 by 768 panel at that size is best avoided.”
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12. Patio Furniture
“Outdoor items don’t usually have good deals to grab for Black Friday,” said Anna Barker, personal finance expert and founder of LogicalDollar. “This is because they’re generally heavily discounted at the end of summer, so the best prices on these will have long gone by the time Black Friday rolls around. Instead, it’s a much better idea to keep an eye out for these during Memorial Day and Labor Day sales.”
13. Off-Brand Electronics
“There will be plenty of doorbuster deals for off-brand electronics on Black Friday, but those no-name electronics typically aren’t great quality, and you likely won’t be able to return them if they’re purchased as a doorbuster deal,” said Shannon Vissers, a retail analyst with MerchantMaverick.com. “Opt instead to purchase name-brand electronics on Black Friday.“
Lower prices will be found after Christmas. “The best deals on a new car take place in October as dealers prepare to clear out old inventory, and then again in late December for end-of-the-year mega-sales,” Vissers said.
15. Fitness Equipment
“There’s nothing like New Year’s resolutions to drive sales of fitness equipment,” Marineau said. “Selection of exercise equipment will be limited during Black Friday, so it’s better to wait until after the new year to score bigger deals. You’ll likely see as much as two to three times as many sales in January versus Black Friday.”
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