The holiday season is bearing down on us, and so are the biggest shopping days and most unbeatable sales of the year. Black Friday 2023 has started earlier than ever before, with major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kate Spade and Best Buy starting their Black Friday deals weeks early, and coining the term "Black November" to describe the frenzied shopping season that's stretched from a few days to over a month.
The 2022 holiday shopping weekend was the "biggest ever" for major retailers "with customers around the world purchasing hundreds of millions of products between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday," Maryland-based e-commerce expert Phil Masiello, tells Yahoo Life. This year, Black Friday is expected to be even bigger, thanks to the extended sale season.
As you look toward your holiday shopping, it's crucial to devise a smart strategy to maximize savings. Here's how to really stretch your dollars this Black Friday.
Shopping Strategies for Black Friday
Do your research: Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, advises to make a list of items that you're interested in buying, then note their current prices at the retailers you like to shop. That way, you’ll be able to spot a great Black Friday deal as soon as you see it. “The most important thing is to know exactly what you want. What specs you want in a TV or laptop and which headphones you want,” says Kristin McGrath, shopping expert with RetailMeNot. “Consumers shouldn’t assume that just because a product is discounted it’s the best price out there. I recommend checking for the product on one to two other retailers to compare the regular price with a potential 'sale' price to ensure you’re actually getting the best deal,” echoes Kristen Gall, retail and shopping expert for Rakuten.
Stay on top of the ads: Pay attention as Black Friday ads come out, says Ramhold. “It may be helpful to follow your favorite retailers on social media and sign up for their email newsletters as well, since they may announce the ad release that way as well as other important details, like when the sales will begin.” Gall calls the ads “your Black Friday road map for deals.”
Check out holiday price guarantees: Have a few favorite retailers? “Check to see if they're offering any kind of price match or guarantee for Black Friday,” advises Ramhold. The idea is that you’ll know if you can request your preferred retailer match the price of a competitor during a Black Friday event, or if you'll have to shop the competitor instead. “And if there's a price guarantee in place, it's good to know that if you buy something early on and it later drops in price, you'll be able to receive a price adjustment for the difference.”
Try to get cash back: “In addition to doing a price comparison, you can ensure you are getting the absolute best price by stacking deals to maximize savings,” says Gall. “Cash-back services like Rakuten allow you to earn cash back on top of sale prices. For extra savings, plan to apply promo codes or digital coupons, and use a rewards credit card to extra earn points or cash back.”
The best Black Friday 2023 deals to look out for
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty: Gall believes that retailers’ overstock categories will be the biggest predictor of Black Friday gold. That includes “home goods, gardening and furniture that they may have not gotten rid of during Labor Day weekend sales,” she says.
But she notes that Black Friday will also focus on “bigger ticket items, such as tech, including laptops, TVs and more.” And that seems to be the general consensus: McGrath, Masiello and Ramhold agree that sales on personal tech items will be the bread and butter of Black Friday 2023. Here are some of the favorites in this race:
Laptops: Ramhold calls these “one of the quintessential Black Friday items” and says to “watch for prices to drop as low as $90 for things like simple Chromebooks while laptops, in general, could be priced as low as $229 or see discounts up to $800 off.”
Smartphones: Ramhold predicts major retailers will offer the latest Android smartphones and iPhones bundled with gift cards worth hundreds, “which can be used on later purchases and boost the value of these deals.”
TVs: McGrath says to look to the major retailers and study their Black Friday ads so you can pounce on the TV you want before it’s gone. “Stock sells out quickly on the best-priced sets, and there are always a few headline-making deals that get a ton of hype and sell out in minutes,” she says. “Zero in on the 4K TV you want, have some backups and get ready to shop as soon as the Black Friday sale kicks off.”
Cameras: Expect deals on everything from Instax cameras to DSLRs, says Ramhold.
Apple products: Look out for great deals on AirPods, especially AirPods Pro, which are “still immensely popular, and retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Target and Best Buy will likely offer the lowest price of the year," says McGrath. She also recommends getting ready to pounce on a new Apple Watch Series 9.
Toys: Historically, the best toy sales happen in December, says Ramhold, but “Black Friday toy deals should be pretty big.” She says to expect up to 85% off at major stores.
Kitchen appliances: McGrath says KitchenAid mixers are the products to watch. These are expensive, and Black Friday deals knock the price down to almost affordable for many shoppers. But last year we saw deals on KitchenAid stand mixers sell out quickly, so be ready to jump on a good deal if you see it.
What to expect from your favorite retailers this Black Friday
As always, retailers will be competing with each other for your business this Black Friday. While there's much overlap, certain retailers specialize in certain kinds of products.
“Check out Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy for tech. Wayfair and Overstock always offer incredible home goods deals,” says McGrath as a general rule of thumb.
”Gap, Old Navy and Target lead the pack when it comes to clothing deals. Walmart is always strong on Black Friday in the toy department. Home Depot and Lowe's don't do as splashy sales as some of the big-box contenders, but they have great values on Black Friday for big-ticket home items, smart home devices, home security bundles, grills, tool sets, power tools and even ladders," McGrath says. "They're also some of the best sources of appliance package deals. And do not forget about Kohl's, which often offers extra Kohl's Cash with purchase. Oftentimes they'll have the same price as a competitor on things like small appliances and smartwatches, but also throw in some Kohl's Cash to make the deal sweeter.”
Got all that? Great! Here’s a Black Friday breakdown by retailer.
Amazon: October and early November sales, like Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Days, “tend to be dress rehearsals for Black Friday,” says McGrath. So expect some truly compelling deals on TVs and laptops as well as Amazon-owned tech, such as the Echo Dot and Fire Stick. “Amazon will likely discount things like Instant Pots up to 35% off. Watch for special promotions to drop the cost of Audible Premium Plus by 60% for three months, or for Amazon to offer a $5 coupon off print book purchases of $20,” adds Ramhold, who notes the importance of a Prime membership this Black Friday. “Prime members have the advantage, as their membership can provide early access to select Lightning Deals,” she says. “These are difficult to grab as the very best ones sell out in an instant, so Prime members having an extra window of opportunity to shop is invaluable.” If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get access to new movies, free shipping and two-day shipping on many items. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here.
Walmart: “At Walmart, you can find major discounts on items across a wide variety of categories — however, the biggest deals are in tech and home goods,” says Gall, who adds, “Walmart is currently hosting a large fall sale that is continuing into the holiday season.” Ramhold says to look for toys too, like “Nerf starting at $3, Lego starting at $7 and board games for as little as $5.”
Kohl’s: “Kohl's will take up to 50% off small appliances," Ramhold says. "Kohl's is especially good for clothing and shoes around this time of year, but it's going to be particularly beneficial to those who shop the store regularly and are familiar with Kohl's Cash, as that is often the element that makes some of the deals so notable.”
Best Buy: The retailer will likely offer huge discounts on technology products such as Apple MacBook Airs, Android phones, and Samsung TVs, says Gall. Ramhold says to expect “big discounts on iPads, with new models dropping to $279 or less while iPad Pros could be as low as $770.” You can add 4K TVs and AirPods to that list too.
Macy’s: At this legendary department store, you can expect Black Friday deals on “a little bit of all kinds of things, from toys to dinnerware to clothing to bedding and more,” says Ramhold. “But its standout offers usually revolve around home items and small kitchen appliances, thanks to rebates on the latter that usually make them especially affordable.” Gall adds, “Shoppers can expect incredible savings for Black Friday, from KitchenAid appliances and cookware to bedding and bath essentials to furniture.”
Target: “Target is great for shopping both Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” especially for Target super fans, says Ramhold. “RedCard members will get extra benefits in the form of 5% back and free two-day shipping on tons of items as well, on top of Target's already affordable prices. This one is going to be best for toy deals, as we expect to see huge discounts (up to 85% off) as well as BOGO promotions to sweeten the deals.”
Lowe’s and Home Depot: Looking for deals on tools? Black Friday could be your day. Ramhold says Home Depot could take up to 50% off tools, while Lowe's could discount specific brands like Craftsman and offer gift cards with select purchase amounts. “Home Depot and Lowe's don't do as splashy sales as some of the big-box contenders, but they have great values on Black Friday for big-ticket home items, smart home devices, home security bundles, grills, tool sets, power tools and even ladders. They're also some of the best sources of appliance package deals,” says McGrath.
Ultimately, it's best to think about what deals you want to score and focus on those categories, Masiello says. "Knowledge is power when it comes to navigating Black Friday sales," he says.
Early Black Friday deals
Want to get a jump start on Black Friday sales? Check these out: