It’s the deal savers Super Bowl, the spectacle of retail, and one of the greatest times of years to find a deal.
If you are a frugal zealot then you are ready to get your shop on and find the low prices that we get promised every year. This Black Friday shopping guide will help you do just that.
If you are going to venture out and go for the big prizes on Black Friday you must realize that this is not a fun and games shopping experience. It’s more like a blood sport. There are three areas you will need to take into consideration to be successful at Black Friday shopping and the first is physical preparation.
To prepare physically you will need to go to bed early. Please do not try to hit 7 stores in 24-36 hours with no sleep. You want to know why someone gets trampled every year? Because they fell asleep near the front of the line.
For door-busters You will need the same number of people as items you are trying secure. So if there are three specific door buster deals you want from Best Buy then you will need two other friends or family that will go get those items while you go for the most important prize. They will not be there if you try to run around the store picking each one up individually. As per the BF rules or courtesy everyone from your party must start in line together. That way no one can complain about you not having been there from the beginning. For good measure, if one of you goes out for food offer to get something for the person behind you in line. By extending this act of kindness they are not likely to get upset with you for not having everyone stay put.
So if you have the right amount of sleep, right number of people, and right frame of courtesy you are ready to get on with your preparation.
Getting Ready for Black Friday
The great unwashed think people just find one deal and run for it on Black Friday. The truth is getting the most deals out of the Thanksgiving weekend takes a lot of prep work. Your Black Friday strategy is not complete without knowing who has what, when they open, and what days are your best bet for the lowest price.
When to Get the Best Deals
Last year we saw Thanksgiving Day produce more top deals than Black Friday. In fact, Black Friday was the third best day to get deals. Cyber Monday actually outpaced black Friday for the best prices of the season. While everyone promotes November as a great month to get stuff on sale, the best four day in order of number of top deals will probably be:
- Thanksgiving Day
- Cyber Monday
- Black Friday
- Day Before Thanksgiving
The first three are going to be significantly better than any other. Last year the top three days outpaced any other day for quantity of best prices by 50%. So don’t buy into the myth of “Black November”. Other than these four days above, the deals won’t be any better in November than in December.
When are the Stores Opening?
We have had a bit of a revolt this year with some stores rejecting opening on Thanksgiving Day and other refusing to participate in the Black Friday spectacle all together. Everyone participates in Cyber Monday and you get to do that shopping from the comfort of your own home. To help you know when to hit your store I put together this handy dandy chart.
|Store||Thanksgiving Day Hours||Black Friday Hours|
|Barnes & Noble||Closed||8 am to 10 pm|
|Bass Pro Shops||8 am to 6 pm||5 am to 10 pm|
|Bealls||6:00 pm to 11 pm||6 am to 10 pm|
|Bed Bath & Beyond||closed||6 am|
|Belk||4 pm to 1 am||6 am to 10 pm|
|Best Buy||5 pm to 1 am||8 am to 10 pm|
|Big Lots||7 am to 12 am (midnight)||6:00 AM|
|Bon-Ton||11 am to 3 pm||Normal Hours|
|Burlington Coat Factory||closed||7:00 AM|
|Carson's||11 am to 3 pm||Normal Hours|
|Dick's Sporting Goods||6 PM - 2 am||5 am to 10 pm|
|Dollar General||7 am to 10 pm||Normal Hours|
|Family Dollar||Normal Hours||Normal Hours|
|Fry's Electronics||closed||6:00 AM|
|Game Stop||4 pm||5:00 AM|
|Gander Mountain||closed||5 am to 11 pm|
|Goody's||2 pm to 1 am||6:00 AM|
|Half Price Books||closed||regular hours|
|Harbor Freight Tools||closed||7 am to 9 pm|
|Hobby Lobby||closed||8 am to 9 pm|
|Home Depot||closed||6 am to 10 pm|
|Kmart||6:00 pm to midnight||6 am to 10 pm|
|Kohl's||5 pm||staying open|
|JC Penney||2 pm||staying open|
|Lowe's||closed||6 am to 10 pm|
|Macy's||5 pm to 2 am||6 am to 1 pm|
|Michael's||6 pm||7 am to 10 pm|
|Nordstrom||closed||8 am to 10 pm|
|Office Depot and Office Max||closed||7:45 am|
|Old Navy||4 pm (some stores)||5 am (some stores)|
|Peebles||2 pm to 1 am||6 am to 10 pm|
|Pet Smart||closed||7 am|
|Rite Aid||most stores open||regular hours|
|Sam's Club||closed (online available)||7 am|
|Sears||6 pm to midnight||5 am|
|Stage||2 pm to 1 am||6 am to 10 pm|
|Staples||closed (online pick up in store)||7 am|
|Target||6 pm to midnight||6 am|
|Ulta||6 pm to 2 am||6 am to 10 pm|
|Victoria's Secret||6 pm (select stores)||6 am to 10 pm|
|Walmart||6 pm||stays open|
Online Shopping Will Make Getting Most Deals Easier
Most retailers are going to make the vast majority of their deals available online. While I am a big fan of online shopping, it is not the best idea if you want to guarantee you get the item. Websites go down as people flood the servers for the best deals.
I use online shopping for items that I am happy to get but not wagering Christmas gifts on. If I really want something I go into the store and make sure I get it.
This does not hold true on Cyber Monday. The online retailers are more than prepared for the traffic and are going to be crushing it in the right categories.
Where to Find the Ads
In order to know which stores you want to visit you will need to look through all the ads of the stores in your area. Back in the dark ages we had to wait until each retailer released their ad and then do a big push to get all our information organized.
Now that we have the Internet, and stores/people are willing to leak the ads early, we can get the lists of deals we need.
Black Friday Game Day Strategy
I think of Black Friday a lot like a big game. You need to have a strategy that works for you and since we all have our own priorities on what we want to purchase no two strategies will look exactly alike. There is, however, a base way to look at Black Friday Shopping.
I break the retailers down into three categories.
- Tier 1 – These are stores that you think of people camping out for. It used to be you could only hit one tier 1 store, but now they open at various times so you have the opportunity to hit more than one if you can get there early enough. If you are lucky enough to live in a more rural area you can show up about one hour before any sale and still get the best deals of these stores. If you are more urban, then show up early cause the doorbusters will go fast. Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target
- Tier 2 – These stores are not nearly as popular as the big boys, but they have great deals and the lines are not nearly as treacherous. I have consistently been able to hit these stores 30 minutes to an hour before opening and still get the best deal of the day. Stapes, Sears, Office Depot
- Tier 3 – These are stores that you don’t really think about as having Black Friday promotions. People aren’t going to be rushing in to get to their sales, but the deals can be really good. What is great about tier 3 is that you can probably get the best deals anytime during the day. This means that once you hit tier 1 and tier 2 you can run around to a few tier 3 retailers and still make off like a bandit. CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Ace Hardware
Once I break my stores down I use the above times of openings to determine which stores I can make it to easily. Prioritize arriving at Tier 1, get your items and then head to Tier 2 based off of when I can possibly arrive.
For instance, one year I went to Wal-Mart for doorbusters, then to Kohl’s and then to Staples. Kohl’s and Staples had good deals but their main attractions were not appealing to me that year. So I swooped in just a little before the doors opened and grabbed the few deep discount, but not overly popular items. Later I hit CVS, Rite Aid, and Ace Hardware at my leisure. Everything I wanted was there and I got a lot of items free after rebates at the pharmacies.
So now all you have to do is do your research, plan your times and hit the road. With the stores staggering their openings you really can get a lot more shopping in and be able to pounce on many more deals than ever before.
Black Friday Predictions and Tips
Every year I do my research and pull out what I think will be going on with the most popular items. Here is what I think will happen this year.
Televisions have been a deal on Black Friday since before I was old enough to get up at 3 AM and do my shopping. You can expect to get off brand televisions at very good prices and, of course, there will be doorbusters.
- 65″ Smart – $899
- 60″ Name-Brand – $398
- 60″ 4k – $599
- 55″ Smart – $249
- 55″ 4K – $298
- 43″ 4k – $199
- 40″ Off-Brand – $125
- 32″ Off-Brand – $69.99
Laptops have been a Black Friday favorite for a very long time. I bought my wife’s laptop on Black Friday and got a great deal (I actually bought one at Wal-Mart and one at Staples at the same price and then returned the lower performer). The laptop deals should look something like this:
- Mainstream – $300
- Budget – $99
- Gaming – $600
- Ultraportable – The prices on these vary all over the place because the specs are so different from one to the other. Expect about 30-35% off on these.
- Apple Macbook Air – Best price at around $800
I love my tablet. If I didn’t need to type to put out my posts then I would use it almost exclusively. They are also great for kids and getting them away from your more expensive device. Expect the off brand Androids to be DIRT cheap again this year and for name brand tablets to drop below $100
- Off-Brand Android low end specs – $28
- Name-Brand Android 7″-8″ – $100-$130
- Apple iPad Air 2 – $275
- Apple iPad Mini 2 – $199
- Not a tablet but the Apple Watch will run $198
- Off-Brand Windows Tablet – $99
Streaming Media Players
With so many people cutting the cord streaming media players have become a very popular option for almost every family. They are also great for families looking to keep the kids off the programming that comes with cable.
I’ve been through about four websites here are the best deals we will probably see:
- New Apple TV – $150
- Old Apple TV – $50
- Roku 4 – $115
- Roku 3 – $75
- Roku Stick – $30
- Amazon Fire TV – $75
- Amazon Fire TV Stick – $20
- Google Chromecast – $25
The days of wireless carriers subsidizing the phones are going the way of the Dodo bird. This means that we really don’t know exactly what is going to go on with the smartphone prices. What we do know is that you should be in for some sticker shock. This new business model will eventually help us with lower rates on our phone service, but for right now the phones are not going to be anywhere near what we are used to for the subsidized prices we used to get.
The day before Thanksgiving is when the toy deals will start going insane. You will have a four day window with the best days being Thanksgiving Day and the day before. If you miss this four day window, do not despair, Amazon, Wal-Mart and the rest will bring back another wave between December 7-14. It will not be quite as good but you will still get some pretty amazing prices.
Amazon will be your best bet for the lowest deals. They seem hell bent on making sure they destroy all other toy sellers during the holidays. To put that in perspective, Wal-Mart will offer a ton of toy deals and Amazon will offer three times as many. Yes, it’s that crazy.
If you are not familiar with the Fabulous 15, they are the 15 hottest toys of the holiday season. Because they are so popular you can expect there will be almost no deals on them. This also goes for Star Wars toys. Disney is the king of selling toys that kids want. My dad describes them as a toy company who makes movies from time to time.
One final thing to look for in toys is LEGOs. You can get as much as 60% off LEGO sets. I recommend doing the big bucket of random bricks. It encourages imagination and will be much more highly discounted than the theme sets.
Console bundles are going to be the best deal of the season. Always make sure you are doing your math on the bundles. If the games in the bundle end up being $60 per game or more then you are getting ripped. The console bundles are going to be around $300 and up to $350 if you want the 1 TB versions. This goes for both the Xbox and PS4. Expect to see the Wii U just above $200.
The best video games of 2015 will be at least half off. The great thing about video games is that they discounts run like clockwork. Xbox and PS4 games that came out from January to May should be about $30, June to October $40 and November release games $45. Nintendo doesn’t work this way, so expect $10 off the list price on those games.
I hate shopping for clothing. Part of the reason is when I get new clothes my wife takes that as a reason to justify throwing out some of my old clothes. I mean what man doesn’t need that 16 year old t-shirt?
The real reason I don’t like clothes shopping on Black Friday is that it eats up time. If you want to hit multiple stores that clothes shopping is not where it is at. On the other hand the deals are really good and I would never object to someone taking my kids out shopping for clothes during the Thanksgiving weekend (GRANDPARENTS LOOK AT THIS SENTENCE).
What you can expect for deals should look something like this:
- Best Straight Discounts – 80% off
- Average Straight Discounts – 54% off
- Best Coupons (most stack with clearance) – 60% off
- Average Coupons – 30% off
Black Friday clothing deals don’t work quite like what you see with electronics. Here are the tips you need to know to get the best prices:
- Clothing Sales will start on the Monday before Thanksgiving. The best sales will be on Thanksgiving day
- Make sure you stack coupons wherever you can
- Jackets are a great deal on Black Friday, but accessories and jewelry get their best deals on Cyber Monday
- Online only retailers have their best deals of the season on Cyber Monday or the Sunday before. After that stick to the bricks and mortar retailers for the rest of the season.
Black Friday is typically a smorgasbord for shoe lovers. What has changed is the Internet has made it even better. The tips you will need for this year are:
- Expect to have to spend around $25 to get free shipping
- Luxury brands will have the best deals on Cyber Monday
- The best deals on sports shoes will happen on Cyber Monday
- Watch out for brand exclusions on coupons
As far as the deals that you can expect to see, the most likely discounts will be:
- 90% off on the absolute best sales
- 60% off on most sales
- 50% off from the best coupons
- com a deep discount site will offer their best coupon of the year on Cyber Monday
This shapes up to be a good year for home goods. We should see an uptic in deals on large appliances, kitchen items, and tools from what we saw last year. Your best bet stores for this category are going to be Sears, Home Depot, and Lowe’s for bricks and mortar sales and Amazon for online deals. In my perusing of different deals, it looks like Lowe’s has the best combination of discount and rebate. You have to be in the market for more expensive appliances to get them though.
For small appliances you are going to have to dig. Kohl’s frequently wins this battle and has another great deal on stand mixers this year.
Black Friday is a great time to grab deals and you should use this opportunity to buy things you need, not just things you want. While Christmas and holidays are on most people’s minds, make sure you are using these drops in prices to minimize your spending throughout the rest of the year.