Black Friday Shopping Tips

By Tracey Dowdy

This year, Black Friday falls on November 23rd, and even though it’s only October, the hype has already begun. Big box retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target are hoping that by “leaking” their deals and promoting early, they can drive customers into their stores. There are even entire websites dedicated to tracking deals online and in brick and mortar stores to help you map out and strategize your plan of attack.

But here’s a little secret: while there are a higher number of deals and promotions on Black Friday, there are deals to be found all year long. While retailers take advantage of the day after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday shopping season, for the most part, they’re not doing consumers any favors. Door-busters are generally available in limited quantities, and they’re counting on you picking up a higher priced alternative when they run out.

Business Insider says the magic number to look for is 37 percent. That’s the threshold for a good deal according to WalletHub, a personal finance website, which took an average of all discounts offered by the 35 largest retailers participating in Black Friday back in 2017. If you’re not saving yourself more than 37 percent, it’s not worth it.

It’s also worth the time to do a little research. I’ve mentioned camelcamelcamel and Honey in several stories, and if you’re in the market for a big ticket item, they’re especially useful. Both provide price-tracking data so you can see the high and low prices for a particular item in various stores over time. Often, you’ll find price drops throughout the year, sometimes at a better deal than what’s offered Black Friday. If you don’t need the item right away, it may be worth waiting.

If you’re in the market for a new tablet or laptop, keep in mind that many people will upgrade over the holidays, turning in their old electronics to bring down their cost. Buying refurbished can often mean an incredible deal on perfectly functioning devices, saving you anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent off retail prices. Sites like Amazon Renewed, Best Buy Outlet, eBay and Apple offer deep discounts on everything from laptops and phones to external hard drives and other accessories.

And finally, don’t forget to take advantage of reward shopping with sites like Ebates, BeFrugal, and Honey. Each has its own reward system in place, and they’re particularly “rewarding” if you’re purchasing several items or taking advantage of those big ticket deals.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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