The 9 Biggest Myths About Black Friday—Busted!
Are day-after-Thanksgiving deals really the best deals we’ll get all year? Is it better to shop in store or online? Our Black Friday shopping expert's secrets may surprise you!
Every year, buyers wait eagerly for Black Friday to ensure they snag the best deal on that must-have toy or the latest tech, and Black Friday 2023 is no different. But are all the deals worth it? Will you find the best prices online or in-store? When can you expect the first Black Friday sales to show up, anyway? With help from BlackFriday.com’s shopping expert Mackenzie Shand, we answer burning questions—and dispel the biggest misconceptions—about the biggest shopping day of the year.
1. Black Friday sales begin on Black Friday.
Retailers are spreading out the deals and proving to buyers that there are plenty of other days to get a deal. Some of the best bargains can be seen as early as a week before Thanksgiving. Amazon repeatedly runs its deals all week long, and Best Buy typically holds its Early Access sale for members the week before. Still, the best sales of the week usually start on Wednesday or on Thanksgiving Day itself.
2. In-store shopping is always better.
Trekking to the store is the best way to get your hands on items before they sell out, and some of the best bargains are only available in person. But that’s been changing over the years: now most big-box stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy are making their doorbusters available online to reach more shoppers.
“Online, we are seeing more promotion of app shopping,” Shand told us recently. “Lululemon has launched early Black Friday deals to app users and Sephora allows you to start planning Black Friday purchases in its app, exclusively.”
3. Online shopping is always easier.
Just because in-store shopping is often a miss, it doesn’t mean that you should rely solely on online shops when it comes time to buy! When everyone rushes a site at the same time, like right after Mom cuts the pumpkin pie, websites can become overcrowded and crash, leaving your shopping experience incomplete and you, empty-handed. Even if your surfing isn’t interrupting, you could run into trouble snagging hot-ticket items, which could sell out before you can place an order.
“Popular toys and video game consoles are no doubt a highly-anticipated Black Friday buy each year. Although we do tend to see great discounts on these items, shoppers can easily miss out on the deals if they don’t act fast,” Shand explains. “We always recommend shoppers purchase these items as soon as they see them go on sale. Do not wait.”
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4. You have to duke it out for the best deals.
Maybe you’ve been avoiding Black Friday shopping because you think it’s a contact sport. If you’re cautious, though, and choose your shopping locations carefully, you could find a relatively tame shopping arena. Injuries happen, but they’re relatively rare—you probably won’t have to don pads to get in the game. If a conflict does occur, be ready to relinquish your treasures to your greedy opponent; it’s always better to lose a brand-new TV to a stranger than to get a punch in the face, or worse.
What to Buy This Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Mackenzie Shand, shopping expert for BlackFriday.com, says that the day after Thanksgiving is a great time to score deals on particular items. Here are her recommendations for what to buy this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Toys: Toys are a popular Black Friday item, and they fill retailers’ Black Friday ads.
- Gaming consoles: Gaming console prices drop in price on Black Friday because they are sought-after holiday gifts. And the popularity of the newest systems means you’ll want to hit the ground running before Black Friday instead of waiting a few days. You’ll still see some gaming deals on Cyber Monday but, as we’ve seen in past years, the most popular consoles continued to sell out.
- Appliances: Major home improvement retailers like stores Home Depot and Lowe’s offer plenty of saving opportunities during Black Friday, especially on appliances. Since this isn’t an impulse buy, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time, and then when Black Friday deals come up, you can be ready to buy.
- Gift cards: We don’t know how many retailers will be offering gift card deals on Cyber Monday, but we know there will be plenty to scoop up on Black Friday. Last year, we saw several retailers, including Amazon, Target, Adidas and Reebok, offer deals on their own gift cards and/or deals on gift cards for other brands and services. Some sales only ran through Black Friday, while others continued on until Cyber Monday. Plus, with a recent RetailMeNot survey revealing that gift cards are the number-one sought after gift to purchase for the holidays this year, now is the time for shoppers to score those deals.
- Clothing: Sometimes clothing retailers will up the ante for Cyber Week because they want to clear out their inventory. You can expect to find great clothing deals—including sitewide sales—on Black Friday, too, but if you aren’t looking for a specific item in a specific size, consider waiting until Cyber Monday to see if the discounts are deeper. If you put an item in your cart and leave it there, some retailers will even send you an email with an additional promo code you can use to sweeten the savings.
- Travel: Cyber Monday and the Tuesday that follows (Travel Tuesday) are known for being great times to find travel deals online. This includes flight packages, hotels, tickets for attractions, cruise ship trips and more.
5. All Black Friday deals are advertised.
It depends on the store, but typically you won’t see all of the deals in store flyers. Online shops may not even advertise all their deals on the homepage (we’re looking at you, Amazon!). By not releasing deal info, retailers retain the freedom to one-up each other to provide the deepest discounts, and attract the biggest crowds.
“Popular toys can sell out before Black Friday sales even begin, so if you do see one you’ve been looking for in stock when Black Friday sales kick off, add it to your cart right away and don’t put the purchase off,” Shand says. “To get an idea of which toys will sell out quickly, check retailers’ toy lists. Amazon, Target and, Walmart have all released theirs for 2023.”
6. High-end brands never go on sale.
Shoppers can score significant savings can on luxury items, especially from outlets like Barney’s Warehouse and Neiman Marcus. Additionally, Apple products will go on sale for Black Friday—but don’t search for them at the Apple store, where bargains are basically nonexistent. Instead, check third-party retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and MacMall to see what kind of incentives they’re offering.
“Apple’s AirPods were at an all-time low during Walmart’s first round of Black Friday deals, on sale for $69. Many LEGO sets are set to be 50 percent off during Walmart’s next round of Black Friday deals, and Dyson hair styling tools have been available at a discount, which barely ever happened in past years,” Shand reveals.
7. Black Friday is still the best shopping day of the year.
Until a few years ago, Black Friday was widely recognized as the biggest and busiest shopping day of the year. Is that still the case? Well, not exactly. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the weekend before Christmas has taken over the top spot in recent years. Savvy shopper Shand recommends waiting until just before Christmas—or even after Christmas—to score these kinds of deals:
- Toys and games: If you missed out on Black Friday sales or you’re not too picky about toys and just want some generalized stocking stuffers and good evergreen gifts for birthday parties in the coming year, shop right before Christmas. Retailers will be eager to offload remaining toys and games will start marking them down the week of Christmas. So, these items make great last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers. Video games will likely see discounts around this time as well. If you’re after a popular toy, however, shop by Black Friday.
- Holiday decor and seasonal items: Shop a few days before Christmas—or better yet, on December 26—to score 50 percent off or more on lights, ornaments, artificial trees, wrapping paper and other seasonal items. Retailers want this stuff out of their stores, and you can easily take advantage of the discounts and save it for next year. If festive decor isn’t your thing, you’ll be able to save on holiday makeup palettes and beauty kits as well. Once the holiday packaging is removed, it’s just like any shimmery eyeshadow palette or nail polish set.
- Clothing and housewares: Department stores generally run sales on the days after Christmas. Stores know they’ll be getting a lot of traffic with so many people returning gifts, and hope to tempt shoppers to make an impulse self-gifting purchase or two.
8. Doorbusters are never worth it.
Doorbuster deals have gotten a bad rap, for good reason. Until a few years ago, the offerings were usually low-cost, off-brand doodads. That’s beginning to change. Today, Black Friday sales include higher-quality offerings: Brands like Dell and Lenovo are replacing cut-rate, no-name laptops, and high-end items like gaming laptops and 4K TVs are now among doorbuster promotions.
9. Every Black Friday buy is a steal.
Not every advertised sale is an incredible deal. With sales starting earlier than ever, there are more and more “filler” deals. The truly awesome bargains are there to get shoppers in the door (or to the store’s website) in the hopes that they’ll hang around and buy more gifts at a hefty markup. If you do your research beforehand, you’ll know just how good those prices really are.