18 Ways to Prepare for Black Friday and Get the Best Deals
Black Friday is often the biggest shopping holiday of the year, so you may be wondering what it'll look like in 2023. While it might not have the same issues it did during the pandemic, that doesn't mean it's going to be smooth sailing all the way through. Issues like inflation may make it another rocky season for consumers. Whether you're concerned about inflation, supply issues, or something else, you should start to get ready for Black Friday 2023 now.
To help you get the best deals on Black Friday and during the rest of the holiday shopping season, we've put together a list of strategies to follow. Check out our Black Friday preparation guide below and learn when to start watching for deals, how to keep your budget intact, and how to avoid disappointment.
How to Prepare for Black Friday and Get the Best Deals
1. Set Your Budget (Now)
Setting a budget is a crucial task any year for Black Friday, but it's incredibly important for 2023. While we may not be seeing big issues with the supply chain this year, there are still other factors to consider.
Though inflation has reportedly been slowing, most consumers haven't seen the lower prices that's supposed to bring. Many families are still feeling the financial strain, and this is causing them to reevaluate spending in general.
The first budgeting step is deciding how much you can afford to spend this holiday season. Nail down the items you must have, including holiday gifts and other purchases you've been saving for. And be sure to leave room for incidentals, like last-minute gifts. Once you've put together this list, calculate the absolute maximum amount you can afford to fork over — and prepare to stick to it.
After you've figured out how much you're willing to spend, make a list of all the people you're shopping for. That'll help you dole out appropriate amounts for each gift. Then get an idea of what you'd like to buy for your recipients. Keep things as nonspecific as you can, and be flexible with your shopping; doing so will help shield you from missing deals, mediocre savings, or even inventory selling out.
2. Check Prices Before Black Friday
Checking prices before Black Friday arrives might initially seem like a waste. After all, if Black Friday has good deals, why do you need to look at prices before then? But the truth is, by checking up on pricing for the items on your list now, you'll have more confidence in the offers you see during Black Friday. And since some retailers have pushed early Black Friday deals the last couple of years, you may even be able to snag these offers ahead of time to avoid website crashes and crushing crowds on the big day itself.
3. Study the Ads to Find the Best 2023 Black Friday Deals
It's best to familiarize yourself with the Black Friday ads as soon as they're released. Check the circulars for your favorite stores to shop on Black Friday first, but don't ignore the ones from places you might not normally shop! While it's easy to buy a new Echo device from Amazon, stores like Staples or Best Buy could have better savings locally. Be sure to also make note of any restrictions, including deals that only run until a certain time or on a certain day.
4. Opt for Online Shopping
Ordinarily, we'd tell you to weigh your options for in-store versus online shopping. But over the last few years, retailers have equalized online and in-store shopping. In fact, we rarely see any in-store-only deals now for Black Friday.
We aren't expecting many in-store-only doorbusters in 2023 — if there are any at all. But be aware that online shopping can come with a few drawbacks. Watch out for short-lived deals that sell out fast, a lack of inventory transparency, and website crashes (or outright refusals for sites to load). Additionally, price comparisons are an absolute must if you want to be sure you're getting the best deals possible, so be ready to jump from one site to another before adding something to your cart.
Still, with so many retailers opting for an extended Black Friday season (again), we're expecting stores to account for traffic increases and space out their deals to help customers spread out their shopping. But it's good to do your Black Friday prep just in case.
5. Bookmark Pages Ahead of Time
If you're planning on shopping online, you should be utilizing bookmarks. Bookmarking a product page ahead of time can often save you precious seconds when sales go live; just note that sometimes stores will have products at different, Black Friday-specific URLs. In these cases, you could find yourself staring at a 404 error message. If you'd rather not risk that, bookmark the homepage of the store's website — you'll still save at least a little time.
6. Craft a Curbside Pickup Plan
With pandemic-related restrictions gone in the U.S., consumers are happy to shop in-store like normal. But that doesn't mean they'll enjoy it, especially if the crowds are on the larger side. Fortunately, stores like Target and Walmart continue to offer curbside pickup, and are even branching out into curbside returns now, too. Other stores will likely follow suit with their own curbside pickup options, but even in-store pickup can save you time over shopping in a more traditional manner.
The great thing about in-store, curbside, or even drive-up pickup is that they combine the best of both worlds. You can still shop online, but you can also get your items quickly, rather than having to wait for them to be delivered. We might not see the same delivery delays this year that we've seen in the past, but there's still a big convenience factor to these shopping methods, and you may not want to risk waiting for your items to be delivered if you don't have to.
7. Don't Expect Stores to Price Match
Every year, major retailers pause their price matching around Black Friday. The suspension often lasts from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, though some stores have been known to pause the perk for two straight weeks around the holiday.
Last year, Target changed up its price matching policy and extended it for the holiday season. Shoppers who purchased an item from there between October 6 and December 24 could receive a price adjustment if the item dropped in price on or before Christmas Eve — but only if that lower cost was at Target or on Target's website. There's a good chance we could see a similar extension in 2023, so definitely be on the lookout.
8. Start Shopping the Early Black Friday Sales ASAP
Expect many retailers to be physically closed on Thanksgiving this year. But just because you can't walk into one of their stores doesn't mean you won't be able to shop online.
Savvy Black Friday shoppers know the best deals can pop up before the big day itself. Some of the best savings opportunities routinely show up on Thanksgiving, and many retailers prefer to roll out deals even sooner to try to beat the competition. Amazon and Target often host early sales that serve as kickoffs to the holiday shopping season, and plenty of other retailers will begin doling our their early Black Friday deals in mid-October. So it's best to be on the lookout for noteworthy deals early on, especially if you're spreading your shopping out this year.
9. Have a Backup Plan for Gifts
In a normal year, inventory can still sell out if it's in high demand, but there's also the risk of items you want not dropping far enough in price to fit your budget. To avoid disappointment, it's best to have backup gifts planned for those on your list. That way, if a deal doesn't meet your standards — or there simply is no deal — you have a plan and can avoid buying a random product out of panic.
10. Don't Ignore Refurbs
In general, open-box and refurbished products can also make solid gifts — as long you shop smart. Look to manufacturers or reputable retailers, like eBay and Best Buy, in order to shop with confidence, but also make sure you read the fine print. Know that there's a good chance refurbished items won't look perfect, but they should function as intended. They also may be missing accessories, such as chargers, so build the cost of those into your budget just in case.
And don't forget to check for warranty information. Even though refurbished and open-box items aren't brand-new, a manufacturer or store with a good reputation often offers at least a 1-year warranty.
11. Be Ready to Wait
You might not be standing in a physical line this year, but if you're utilizing some method of store pickup, be prepared to wait. If you can, opt for drive-up in these cases; then you can at least wait in the comfort of your car. If you do have to wait inside, remember to follow any rules the store has in place for where you have to pick up your order, and also remember to be patient and kind to those around you.
Whether you're inside the store or waiting in your car, you'll need material to keep you entertained. The amount of time you'll have to wait will vary, so be prepared with something to do. For example, take a book with you to read or listen to podcasts on your phone. That way, you won't be standing around plagued by boredom — and the temptation to give in to impulse purchases.
12. Plan for Shipping Delays
It's a good idea to pad your shopping time frame with the potential for shipping delays, especially if you're buying online. Most retailers will alert you to order deadlines to ensure that your items arrive in time for the holidays — often via a banner on their homepage. But it's still good to account for the possibility of items arriving later than expected, so you aren't frantically trying to come up with an alternate plan at the last minute. (That's where our backup-plan tip above can come in handy!)
If you're cutting it close and ordering a few days before the holiday itself, you may want to plan on spending extra for expedited shipping — if it's in your budget. That'll increase the odds of your gifts arriving in time.
13. Download Apps and Save Extra
When you're waiting on an order, you may want to double-check that you're getting the best deal, or just get started on the next item on your list. Either way, download the DealNews app to stay on top of the latest deals while on the go.
14. Avoid Impulse Purchases
Avoiding impulse purchases might be easier to do if you're shopping exclusively online, as you won't have the items right in front of you while you wait for a cashier to scan your purchases. When you're saving a lot of money during the shopping holiday, it's easy to feel like a couple of extra items won't matter. But this kind of thinking will destroy your Black Friday budget! Avoid any so-called "freebies" that come with minimum thresholds you weren't planning to spend, like a free tote with a $75 purchase.
15. Beware of Final Sale Items
Plenty of Black Friday promotions claim to offer the lowest prices of the season. But before you rush to buy anything — especially a big-ticket item — check to see if it's a "final sale." Products with that designation typically can't be exchanged or returned, and if they can be, they could incur a restocking fee of at least 15%. Familiarize yourself with the store's policy before you add that new TV to your cart — especially if you aren't sure you need it.
16. Stay Organized
Mail-in rebates and store credits are popular forms of Black Friday discounts. Retailers tend to prefer these kinds of savings, as they're able to advertise deep discounts while still raking in the full prices for these items. It's a win-win.
Redeeming those offers can be a bit tricky for those who aren't well-organized. We suggest tucking your receipts and rebate forms into a special envelope or section of your wallet. If you're shopping exclusively online, create a folder or special label in your email inbox for all your outstanding orders. Later that day, once the shopping storm has died down, you can then create a spreadsheet with all the pertinent details for each offer, including the product, store, dates the offer is valid, and anything else you might need to scoop up those savings.
17. Be a Social (Media) Butterfly
Whatever your favorite social platform might be — X, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, or something else entirely — start following your favorite stores now. Keep a close eye on these accounts, as coupons, sale previews, or even Black Friday ads can appear there first. These can net you some serious savings, or help you find a bargain you might not have seen otherwise.
Additionally, be sure to check these accounts for coupons before you hit the stores. And look for promo codes from manufacturers' websites, store websites, or right here on DealNews. If you're headed in-store, check your local paper and online circulars for printable coupons to take along, as well.
18. Be Kind to Everyone
Please be nice to sales associates. True, some retail employees jump at the chance to earn holiday overtime pay by working on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, but they still have to face long lines, temperamental customers, and possibly even co-workers who have zero desire to be there. And even if more people shop online overall, they'll still have to face these obstacles at some point. You won't be able to control the people around you, but you can definitely be a bright spot in someone else's stressful day.