Black Friday is an annual holiday shopping extravaganza that some people look forward to all year long. Last year, 66.5 million shopped in-store on the famous discount day and 88 million shopped online, according to the National Retail Federation.
But amid all of the tempting sales, it can be easy to get in over your head with too much spending. Or conversely, miss opportunities amid the frenzy to truly score a deal and make your money go further.
By creating a budget ahead of time and knowing what categories of products to prioritize, as well as where to look for deeper discounts, you can make your Black Friday dollars go further.
Black Friday shopping tips
Black Friday takes place the day after Thanksgiving and is a time when retailers—both brick and mortar and online—roll out some of their biggest discounts of the year. For those who plan on spending, it can be helpful to outline a budget ahead of time and be prepared with savvy shopping tips to make Black Friday bargains go further.
Some of the best ways to do this include focusing on categories of products that offer the biggest discounts, using deal sites to maximize bargains and knowing where to look for information about the best sales. And not to be overlooked—do not feel compelled to do all your shopping in one day.
Tip #1: Know what categories to focus on
While there are deals everywhere you turn on Black Friday, some product categories are known to have the biggest sales, advises Bodge. Those categories include technology, home appliances, beauty products, and fall apparel.
“These are the categories that are historically the most deeply and broadly discounted,” says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge, of True Trae. “And I would say that tech is really the star of the show.”
- Tech products: The specific tech products to watch include laptops, televisions, and video games—all of which tend to be sold at a serious bargain this time of year, says shopping expert Trae Bodge.
- Small appliances: This is another product category that’s deeply discounted every year. “It’s a good time for purchasing gifts in this category, especially for someone who has a new home, is a budding home cook, or is looking for additional security, such as home security systems,” explains Bodge. Other items that are hot deals in this category include convenience products like robotic vacuums and multi-use kitchen appliances, such as crock pots or instant pots.
- Beauty products: Beauty deals are always strong around Black Friday as well. Shoppers are likely to see a variety of beauty gift sets available at a deep discount. “It’s an ideal time to shop for gifts and stock up on essentials for personal use,” Bodge adds.
- Apparel: Apparel and footwear deals on Black Friday make sense given that it’s the end of the fall season and retailers are trying to clear out their stock. “Combine that with the fact that it’s Cyber Weekend and the deals are even sweeter,” she says.
Tip #2: Utilize deal sites to maximize the discounts
Black Friday deals are great on their own, but if you plan to shop online you can save even more money when you use well-known deal websites that provide additional coupons or cash back.
“Deal sites are your best friend when it comes to saving on Black Friday,” says Bodge. “They are an essential tool if you want to save more when you’re shopping. Many of the top deal sites have browser extensions, which in my opinion, are the easiest way to save money while you shop.”
A few of the most well-known deal sites include Slickdeals, Rakuten, and BeFrugal, Once installed on your computer, a deal website’s browser extension will automatically alert you to available discounts including coupons and cashback offers, which you can then click on to activate when making a purchase online.
You can also head to a deal website before visiting a retailer’s site to get a better sense of the sales that may be available.
“All of these sites function a little differently, but typically, you can search by retailer or category and available offers will pop up,” Bodge explains. “You can usually click on the offer and be brought to the retailer’s site. I like Slickdeals, in particular, because of all the actual shoppers who are voting up and vetting deals. There are also community forums on the site if you want to dig a little deeper into specific categories or retailers.”
Tip #3: Be sure you’re really getting a deal
If there are specific products being advertised for sale on Black Friday that you’re interested in buying, it can also be helpful to do a little research to find out if the price advertised is truly a bargain.
For this, you can use the platform Paypal Honey. “Once you install their browser extension, the Paypal Honey icon will appear as you browse to show you historical pricing and it will be clear whether there’s a discount now or not,” says Bodge.
Armed with such information, you can more accurately assess whether it makes sense to purchase something or wait.
Tip #4: Know where to look for shopping intel
In the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday, you may want to prepare for the upcoming shopping extravaganza by gathering information on the specific sales that will be taking place. There are several ways to do this.
“While I like to recommend signing up for retailer emails so you’ll be in the loop, we are all struggling with clogged inboxes these days,” says Bodge. “Another route is to use a site like BlackFriday.com, which will have all the Black Friday advertisement scans. In some cases, you can get a sneak peek before ads are officially released.”
If you’re more of a social media person, another approach is to follow your favorite retailers on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to stay on top of the deals and sales being rolled out.
Tip #5: Don’t feel compelled to buy everything
Yes, Black Friday does offer a chance to score major bargains, but that doesn’t mean you need to snatch up every deal you come across. It’s still important to remember what your established budget is when shopping and remain within that spending plan. It’s also a good idea to resist the urge to rely on using credit cards to cover the cost of purchases that you don’t have money set aside to make.
“There will be more sale days ahead,” says Bodge. Some of the additional big shopping days she recommends watching out for include Cyber Monday, which is the Monday following Black Friday. Giving Tuesday, which is November 29 (the day after Cyber Monday) is another day to score discounts.
“Giving Tuesday is a great day to support brands that give back to the causes that are important to you, and many retailers and brands also offer deals on this day,” Bodge adds.
Finally, the travel junkies will want to mark November 29 on their calendar. That’s when Travel Deal Tuesday takes place. “According to the travel deal app Hopper, Travel Deal Tuesday is the day that has consistently offered the highest volume of deals in the post-holiday sales week,” says Bodge.
And even after November sales have come and gone, there are still some deals to be had. For those who can hold out just a bit longer, December also brings some shopping bargains.
“Historically, winter apparel, toys, and holiday-themed merchandise and gift sets are better priced in December,” says Bodge. “If someone on your list is asking for a specific toy, you should get it now, but if you’re more flexible, December is a better bet for deals on toys.”