Which Will Have Better Deals in 2021? Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

Christmas sales.
Svetlana-Cherruty / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The holiday shopping season is cruising toward Black Friday and Cyber Monday with several big sales already in the books. The consensus opinion seems to be that neither event will deliver as many discounts as they have in years past, and that inflation, supply chain headaches and continuing COVID anxiety will make the truly big savings elusive. 

See: 6 Holidays Purchases That You Should Only Make at Costco
Check Out: The 14 Best Holiday Deals From Costco’s Early Black Friday Coupon Book

Even so, Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain the biggest spending days of the year and the heart of the holiday shopping season. GOBankingRates asked the experts what to expect.  

The Two Different Days Offer Different Types of Deals

A lot of attention is paid to which specific items will be discounted more deeply on which day, but it might be wiser to sort Black Friday and Cyber Monday by the type of deals they tend to deliver. 

“Black Friday offers better deals in terms of in-store doorbusters for limited-quantity items,” said Meaghan Brophy, senior analyst and staff writer at Fit Small Business. “Black Friday deals also often include gift-with-purchase sales, which are popular with shoppers wanting to get something for themselves or extra gift cards to use as stocking stuffers. If you’re looking for the best deals in terms of deep percentage discounts or BOGO offers, Cyber Monday is your best bet. The apparel category in particular typically has deep discounts on Cyber Monday.” 

Make Your Money Work for You

We’ve Got You Covered: GOBankingRates’ Smart Holiday Spending Guide

It Really Depends on Where You Shop

Another strategy is to sort your shopping list not by sale categories or specific items, but by the strengths of your favorite individual retailers. 

“As far as which days certain categories of items go on sale, each retailer really does their own thing,” said retail analyst Shannon Vissers of MerchantMaverick.com. “Most of the category-specific sales have already occurred in the Black Friday lead-up sales events and now everyone’s just waiting for the big day(s) when stores offer their major sales across all categories,” 

Vissers wants you to put these important Black Friday sales dates on your calendar: 

  • Nov. 19: Best Buy
  • Nov. 21: Walmart (online)
  • Nov. 25-26: Amazon
  • Nov 26: Walmart (in-person); Target

Also, try to remember to shop the bigger retailers on the bigger shopping day and the smaller chains on the smaller shopping day. 

“As for where to shop, we suggest that you focus on major retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy during Black Friday while looking at smaller retailers such as Bath & Body Works, Banana Republic and America Eagle on Cyber Monday,” said Jon Vincent, consumer analyst and founder of EarlyBlackFriday.com

Make Your Money Work for You

Prepare: Shipping, Wrapping & More Extras To Account For in Your Holiday Budget

Which Day Is ‘Better’ Depends on What You’re Shopping For

The third and final option is to know exactly which pieces of merchandise you’re after and target those things specifically.

“On Black Friday, you will find better deals on electronics, small kitchen appliances, toys and computers and accessories,” said Vincent. “On Cyber Monday, it is better to shop for clothing, bed and bath items and beauty products.” 

Consumer analyst Julie Ramhold, with DealNews.com, expects more deals in more categories on these days: 

  • Thanksgiving: iPads, headphones, video games and clothing
  • Black Friday: Laptops, appliances, tablets and toys 
  • Cyber Monday: Shoes, kitchen items, beauty, Android phones and TVs 

Different experts, however, have different expectations. 

“Black Friday will be focused more on offering deep discounts on specific items including TVs — especially 4K TVs, which will be at the lowest prices you’ll see all year,” said Jay Klauminzer, savings expert and CEO of discount gift card site Raise. “You’ll also find great deals on appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, air fryers, Instant Pots, stand mixers, microwave ovens, washing machines and dryers. Other popular discounted items will include toys, gaming consoles and footwear.”

Shopping Tips: Wrapping Paper, Greeting Cards and More Holiday Items to Only Buy at Dollar Stores

Be Aware of the Supply Chain Drama, But Don’t Let It Steer Your Strategy

The global logistical tangle that’s been so widely reported is undoubtedly real, but the fire-and-brimstone premonitions of empty shelves and endless delays have so far proven mostly unfounded. 

“For all the talk of supply chain problems, the major retailers are pretty well-prepared for their big Black Friday sales days,” Vissers said. “Retailers started their sales early to alleviate some of the pressure on the ‘big day,’ and Target, in particular, says they do not expect any supply issues to hamper their Black Friday event. Target and Walmart have also hired a ton of seasonal workers to help insulate their stores from the labor shortage during the holidays.”

This situation will, however, certainly leave some shoppers frustrated and disappointed on both days.

“Due to supply chain issues, you will not find many deals this year on major appliances, gaming consoles and printers,” Vincent said. “These items will either not be on sale or will have extremely limited stock available for the few deals that are advertised. The best strategy is to shop early this year. Most Black Friday sales begin on the Sunday before Black Friday and we suggest you aim to get your shopping done before Thanksgiving. Most Cyber Monday sales begin on the Sunday before Cyber Monday and we suggest you try to complete your shopping by noon on Cyber Monday due to the limited stock available this year.”

Important: The Ultimate Holiday Etiquette Gift Guide

In reality, the drawn-out sales season that started with the pandemic has had a diluting effect on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and in the post-pandemic era of e-commerce, the idea that one day is for in-store shopping and the other is for online shopping feels dated. 

“With COVID, the lines have been blurred between Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said Jonathan Silver, founder and CEO of consumer purchasing data and insights firm Affinity Solutions. “Many retailers have extended their in-store sales online to accommodate those who aren’t willing to shop in person.”

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.

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