Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with customers lining up outside their favorite stores to snag once-a-year deals on gifts for themselves and their loved ones. But, as with almost everything else, the pandemic has made things a little different for 2020. More deals will be available online to prevent crowding in stores and many major retailers have started their sales early.
If you were planning on waiting until Nov. 27 to do all of your holiday shopping, that may not be the best plan. Some of the best deals will be available before and after that date — plus, some Black Friday deals aren’t actually good deals. While you will certainly be able to find some heavily discounted items on Black Friday, here are 11 reasons why you should spread your holiday budget around.
Spreading Out Your Purchases Can Help You Avoid Overspending
It’s easy to lose track of your holiday spending when you’re rushing to do all of your shopping in a single day.
“When you wait to buy everything at once over Black Friday, you may not have enough cash to cover the gifts and that’s when people tend to rack up credit card debt,” said consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Shopping early or after allows you to manage your cash flow better to avoid taking on a balance you can’t pay off.”
You’ll Miss Out on Early Deals If You Wait Until Black Friday To Shop
Many retailers have already kicked off their Black Friday sales, and some items that are discounted now will be back up to their original prices by the end of the month.
“Everyone from Target to Walmart to Kohl’s to The Home Depot is releasing Black Friday sales ahead of Black Friday, and waiting to shop until after Thanksgiving could mean missing out on deals,” Woroch said. “Plus, there’s a potential for delivery delays since retailers will likely experience overwhelming orders on Black Friday that result in shipping issues.”
You Might Face Inventory Issues on Hot Items If You Wait Until Black Friday To Shop
If you do all your holiday shopping online you won’t be facing empty shelves, but you do run the risk of a “hot” item on your gift list being out of stock if you wait until Nov. 27.
“Retailers have been pushing limited inventory since the start of the pandemic, so you can expect hot gift items like popular toys, TVs, next-gen gaming consoles and select beauty products to run short,” said Dana Marineau, CMO at Rakuten. “If you have your mind set on specific items, this is the safest time to lock them in before the rush kicks in.”
You Can Get Price Matches for Black Friday Prices at Some Retailers, Even If You Shop Early
If you shop early and the price of an item ends up dropping on Black Friday, you may be able to get a price match.
“Don’t worry about missing out on bigger savings as many retailers are promising early deals will be the same if not better [than Black Friday deals],” Woroch said. “In fact, Target has extended its price match and adjustment policy from now through Dec. 24 on any deal advertised as a Black Friday promo — if that early deal you buy now drops in price over Black Friday or any time leading up to Christmas, you can get some money back for the difference.”
Shopping Early Gives You More Time To Rack Up Credit Card Rewards
If you plan to cash in on your credit card rewards at the end of the year, getting a head start on your shopping can mean more rewards to cash in on.
“The earlier you shop, the more credit card rewards you can rack up to then redeem towards a statement credit at the end of the year and pay off your purchases,” Woroch said. “Just make sure that you’re reviewing your current credit card’s bonus reward categories and opt in to qualify so you can maximize your reward earnings every time you shop throughout the holidays.”
It’s Better To Shop Discount Stores Early
At many discount stores and their online counterparts, once an item is sold out, it won’t be restocked.
“If you plan to buy gifts at a store that doesn’t restock items or doesn’t restock items as frequently, shopping at these stores prior to Black Friday sales may be your best bet,” said Rebecca Gramuglia, retail expert at TopCashback.com. “Even if the discount is slightly less than you would’ve scored on the actual shopping holiday, securing the gift early on may be worth it. If you plan to shop at department discount stores like Nordstrom Rack or Saks OFF 5TH, keep your eyes peeled for deals because once items are gone from those sites, they may be harder to find.”
Not All Black Friday Deals Are Actually That Good
“As a general rule of thumb, if you see an item discounted for less than 30% off, it is better to skip that item on Black Friday,” said Jon Vincent, founder of EarlyBlackFriday.com. “You will most likely be able to get a better deal by waiting until later in the holiday shopping season.”
Some Electronics Sold For Deep Discounts Are of Inferior Quality
According to Vincent, some retailers and electronics manufacturers will sell “Black Friday models” of popular electronics. These models may be cheap, but they’re also likely inferior in quality compared to the brand’s typical models.
“Shoppers should double-check the model number of the item they are purchasing on Black Friday to verify it is a real model and not a Black Friday special model that is for sale,” he said. “The special Black Friday models typically have parts and quality that are less than what you would expect from the brand. A hint that it’s a Black Friday special model is that it’s brand new on the retailer’s website, and it has no reviews from other shoppers.”
Some Deals Will Be Better on Cyber Monday
Although some retailers are running their Black Friday sales through Cyber Monday, others will be introducing new deals on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Retailers that are differentiating between the two shopping days will likely offer better deals on certain categories of items on Cyber Monday than Black Friday.
“We expect to find substantial Cyber Monday deals on electronics, clothing and toys,” said Tim Derdenger, professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.
Some Deals Will Be Better After Thanksgiving Weekend
Prices for some items will drop even lower in December and January.
“Winter clothing, jewelry and gift cards will all be cheaper after Black Friday,” said Michael Bonebright, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “December is the best time to buy a gift card all year, as we see a lot more — and better — deals thanks to bonus offers. It’s not unusual to get an extra $25 gift card when you spend $75 on gift cards in December, for example. There’s also a much wider selection of jewelry during December holiday sales, as Black Friday jewelry deals tend to be limited to cheaper pieces. And you should wait until January to buy winter apparel and accessories, as that is when these items go on clearance.”
You Can Save on Shipping Costs If You Shop in December
If you’re doing your holiday shopping solely online, shipping fees can really add up, so it’s best to shop at a time when shipping is free.
“This year’s Free Shipping Day falls on Monday, Dec. 14,” Gramuglia said. “Stores like Macy’s and Target offered free shipping around this time last year, so we can anticipate similar deals and promotions. However, you may find that you need to spend a minimum to score the free shipping, so be sure to read the terms of the promotion.”
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