Is Black Friday Worth It? Here's How You're Doing Black Friday Wrong
With inflation continuing to cause economic pain, it's more important than ever to get the most bang for your buck when shopping. Fortunately, Black Friday deals are already starting up, offering big discounts on all of your holiday buying needs.
But does Black Friday really live up to the hype? Are Black Friday deals worth it, and is it worth taking the time to track down the best discounts and wait for doorbusters this November? We think so. Read on to find out why.
Is Black Friday Worth It?
You can find sales throughout the year, so do you really need to shop on Black Friday, too? Even if you've snagged some great deals already this year, we say Black Friday offers are definitely worth watching.
Black Friday season can start at the beginning of November, if not sooner, and it stretches into early December with sales following Cyber Monday. During that time, you can typically get great deals across practically all categories, including on items that rarely see discounts, like Apple products. Depending on what you're shopping for, Black Friday can be the cheapest time to buy.
But not every deal during November is a good deal, and this sales season will most benefit the smart shoppers who plan in advance. For the unwary, it can be easy to make bad buys. To help prevent that, here are 10 ways you may be doing Black Friday wrong, and how you can change your shopping strategy to make the most of this holiday sales season.
10 Ways You're Doing Black Friday Wrong
1. You're Not Making a Plan
There are thousands of sales during Black Friday season, and the most important thing you can do to get great deals on Black Friday is to make a plan in advance. If you go into the store dazzled by the promotional signs — whether online or in person — you're likely to jump on sales that aren't very good and overspend as a result.
How much planning you do is up to you, but you should start well before Black Friday. October is ideal, as that's when the first sales kick off, but now that that month has passed, the next-best time to start is now! Set a budget for yourself so you know just how much you have to spend, and make a shopping list. If you're feeling more industrious, you can take a look at current prices and start reviewing sale circulars as soon as they show up. Then when sales start rolling in, you can more easily pay attention to the deals you want without getting distracted by other offers.
You can use sites like DealNews and price trackers like CamelCamelCamel to tell if sales are really good deals or just minor discounts. If it isn't a great price drop, don't jump on it immediately — instead, wait to see if something better turns up.
2. You're Assuming All Sales Are Good Sales
A sale could mean a product is $5 off or $500 off — and you'll want to pay attention to whether you're getting a tiny discount or huge savings instead of assuming everything is a bargain. Many sites will list a percent discount on sale prices, but even these can be deceptive, as they typically list the discount off the manufacturer's suggested retail price — and some products commonly sell for less than the MSRP. That means you may run into sales that look more impressive than they are.
Avoid impulse buying just because an item is listed as on sale; check the price to be sure it's a good deal.
3. You're Waiting Until Black Friday to Start Shopping
You can't wait until Black Friday to start shopping anymore, as the first Black Friday deals begin cropping up in October. The early sales may not be the best ones of the season, but if you don't check, you won't know if there's a must-buy bargain.
Keep your shopping plans in mind, but definitely look at the early deals to see if there are any sales on items you want.
4. You're Ignoring or Counting on Doorbusters
Online or in-person, doorbuster deals are usually fantastic offers with a very limited quantity. To get them, you'll want to pay attention to what time sales start and be in the right place. For brick-and-mortar retailers, you'll want to get in line if there's a doorbuster you really want; for online retailers, you want to be sitting online ready to click buy at just the right moment. Fortunately, retailers will advertise these sales well in advance, so you'll know to be ready.
At the same time, counting on doorbuster deals to make your holiday shopping budget work can also be a mistake. Doorbuster promotions are great, but their limited quantities means there's no guarantee you'll get them — and you shouldn't expect to get them, no matter how prepared you are. Don't make a doorbuster your only holiday gift solution — and if you don't happen to get what you want, don't be tempted to buy lesser deals just because they're there.
5. You're Skipping Cyber Monday
Just as Black Friday sales start early, the season of savings runs late. Cyber Monday and the week that follows continue the offers with a focus on online deals. The sales on and around Cyber Monday can be just as good as — or better than — those on Black Friday.
That means you shouldn't feel pressured to buy on Black Friday if you don't find the deal you want; there are more sales to come. Be sure to keep your eyes open during the week after Black Friday, as well.
6. You're Not Paying Attention to Gift Cards, Store Credits, and Rebates
Some of the best sales we see during Black Friday season are reasonably low prices that come bundled with gift cards or other discounts. While the base price won't always be the best, if you'll use the gift card or store credit, these can make them the best bargains you'll get. Some items may also have rebates that you may not get immediately, but will add up to a great sale in the end.
The only caveat with these deals is you have to be sure you'll spend your gift cards, use your discounts, or redeem those rebates. If you buy a bundle with a gift card and just let the gift card expire, you aren't getting a very good deal in the end.
7. You're Not Checking Brands
If you're shopping for a new TV this holiday season, there's a big difference between buying a top-of-the-line LG and a budget-friendly Hisense. Some deals — particularly doorbusters — may not advertise brand details beforehand, meaning that great TV deal you hope to buy may not be as great as it looks at first glance.
Even if you don't particularly care about the brand of product you're buying, it has a large impact on price — and if you wind up buying budget, you may not be getting as good of a deal as you think you are. You could wind up with a product that isn't exactly what you want or one that doesn't even last a year, so that you're shopping for the same item again next Black Friday.
8. You're Making Impulse Purchases
Impulse buys are rarely a good decision. Never just grab something because you see it on sale. Instead, be mindful of your budget and check prices to be sure you're getting a real bargain before you buy.
9. You're Expecting Price Matching, Free Shipping, or Other Extras
Beyond low prices, the extras you're likely to find are a mixed bag. Even stores that typically do price matching tend to have limitations during Black Friday season and may suspend the policy during that time altogether. Other stores won't price match online deals or will only price match certain retailers, and you can't expect any retailer to be willing to price match a sold-out doorbuster deal. If you're counting on price matching for savings, be sure to review the store's price matching policy carefully, and be prepared with the information you need to get the lower price.
Free shipping is another extra that we often take for granted, but it's not necessarily a given. Companies like Amazon and Walmart expect you to subscribe to their shopping services to get free shipping, and other retailers may only offer free shipping with a high minimum purchase — if at all. Don't build an online shopping budget expecting free shipping from all retailers.
But there are still some ways to save on shipping. If you're buying online at a brick-and-mortar retailer, curbside pickup options are typically fast and free. And if you're buying at Amazon or Walmart and don't subscribe to Amazon Prime or Walmart+, both programs offer a 30-day free trial that you could use to help with holiday shopping.
10. You're Not Keeping an Eye on Inflation
As mentioned above, inflation has been a continuing issue, with consumer prices increasing by 8.2% over the past year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means this year's Black Friday sales may not be quite as impressive as past Black Friday events, but it doesn't necessarily guarantee discounts will be worse this year either. Inflation has had odd impacts on shopping, and we saw online prices fall recently, which could indicate solid online deals for Black Friday 2022.
In the end, how retailers respond to inflation will vary. Some may offer deep discounts on stock they haven't been able to sell in order to clear out inventory, whereas others will have slightly higher prices — or slightly less impressive sales — this holiday season. While we hope to see some great bargains this year, be prepared for the fact that you may not see prices quite as low as before.
But even with this uncertainty, Black Friday is still worth it. And despite inflation, prices on Black Friday are likely to be some of the lowest of the year, and these sales are absolutely worth paying attention to.
Can't wait for Black Friday? Be sure to check out all the very best deals available right now!