Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are melting together more and more. 2021 is making it even more unusual, but there are still some smart buys for each day.
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Calibrating your Thanksgiving weekend shopping strategy? Good. You’ll be seeing an overwhelming number of deals, running from Thursday, Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday-eve) through to Monday, Nov. 29 (if not sooner), and it pays to have a plan.
Like last year, the pandemic will play a factor in holiday shopping this season, but with a few curve balls thrown in the mix. Most people will be shopping online, but in-store shopping is more accessible again. Meanwhile, lower supply and shipping delays are to be expected. In short, many hot items will sell out sooner than normal, so it helps to know what deals to scoop up right away and what deals to wait on.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become increasingly indistinguishable from each other — and have blended into a nebulous five-day haze of deals — there are still a few products that are best to buy on one day over the other. In 2020, Cyber Monday actually surpassed Black Friday in terms of spending, which could indicate the level of deal offerings on that specific day. According to Adobe Analytics, U.S. shoppers spent $9 billion on Black Friday and $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday.
What to buy Thanksgiving/Black Friday
Thanksgiving and Black Friday are increasingly bleeding together. In fact, these days, especially as retailers try to recover from the pandemic”s impact, Black Friday sales will start before Thanksgiving, with some pre-sales beginning in October. The effect of the pandemic will be felt in fewer in-store events, with many doorbuster deals moving online. Expect more options for delivery, with buy online, pick up in store and expanded curbside pickup.
If any of these items are on your shopping list, buy them as soon as deals go live the week of Thanksgiving. Do not wait until Friday, hoping deals will get better. Retailers start their online Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving Eve) and run them until they sell out. With the impact of the pandemic, many retailers will start their sales the Monday before Thanksgiving, if not even earlier. It”s highly unlikely that they”ll sweeten the deal on Black Friday itself. However, if a deal does sell out online on Thanksgiving, shopping in a store on Black Friday may be your only chance to snag it.
TVs: Black Friday is about the doorbusters, and TVs lead the doorbuster charge. You’ll find 4K TVs at the lowest prices you’ll find all year. And most of these deals will start the week of Thanksgiving instead of Black Friday.
While those famous doorbusters will be in limited supply, the Black Friday TV craze will pull down the prices of all models, so you’ll be getting a deal even if you don’t snag a doorbuster. It’s sometimes better if you don’t go after doorbuster TVs which are often lower-quality brands and cheap derivative models. Instead, research the best TV brands and look for those on Black Friday.
50-inch 4K TVs under $15055-inch 4K TVs under $20060-inch 4k TVs under $22570-inch 4K TVs under $30075-inch 4K TVs under $450
While you’ll see some good Cyber Monday TV deals, the discounts won’t be as dramatic, and the selection won’t be as big.
Toys: Toys are another popular Black Friday item, and they fill retailers’ Black Friday ads. But it’s not just low prices that make Black Friday the best day to shop for toys: Hot toys will sell out fast for the holidays, especially with parents wanting new ways to entertain and occupy their children at home, so you want to buy as soon as possible.
The most popular toys will be sold out before Black Friday draws to a close, so forget about waiting until Cyber Monday. Get started on your toy shopping at least the Monday before Thanksgiving (as many retailers will start their Black Friday toy deals on Thanksgiving Day or earlier). Want to know which toys will sell out the fastest? Check the retailer”s toy book ads, which get released in September and October – Target’s 2021 Toy List is the first to be released this year – and list out the most popular toys of the year.
Note: The massive network that impacts the speed at which goods move around the globe has been severely impacted by the ongoing global pandemic. According to CNN, this will likely impact products from myriad companies, including well-known toy brand Hasbro (makers of Nerf products, My Little Pony, and various well-known board games). Check out our guide on navigating this year’s supply chain issues for extra info.
Gaming consoles: Gaming console prices drop in price on Black Friday because they are sought-after holiday gifts. And the popularity of the newest systems means you’ll want to hit the ground running before Black Friday instead of waiting a few days.
You’ll still see some gaming deals on Cyber Monday. But, last year, the most popular consoles (including the Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and S) kept selling out.
For 2021, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are still in high demand, so don”t expect to see a ton of discounts on these systems. Instead, try and score a new console bundled with a hot new game. If you want a deal, you may be able to snag a Switch bundle or older PlayStation or Xbox model. If you see a deal on a new system you want on Black Friday (or earlier), pounce on it.
Appliances: Department stores like Macy’s and Sears and electronics stores, such as Best Buy, go all in on Black Friday, discounting practically everything they carry. In addition to the more celebrated discounts on electronics, you’ll find plenty of discounts in the appliance department as well.
With many people spending more time at home, there is higher demand for appliances and small appliances. If your home needs some upgrades, Black Friday is a smart time to shop for refrigerators, ranges, washer/dryer combos as well as air fryers, instant pots, KitchenAid mixers and microwave ovens.
Footwear: You probably don’t think of footwear when you imagine Black Friday, but maybe you should. Unless you’re the type of sneaker wearer who only grabs the cheapest options, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great days to find sales. Make sure to check out any stores that sell athletic footwear on these days, such as Nike and New Balance, there’s a good chance you’ll find a few deals. Likely the best prices of the year.
What to buy Cyber Monday
If you”re shopping for any of the items below, you”re safe — or even better off — waiting until Cyber Monday. Just keep in mind that many retailers start their Cyber Monday sales on the Saturday or Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. These days, you”re just as likely to find a “Cyber Weekend” sale as a “Cyber Monday” one. Free shipping may be harder to find this year, so take advantage of free delivery options like buy online, pick up instore and curbside pickup.
Laptops/PCs: Cyber Monday centers on tech deals, meaning laptops, desktops and gaming PCs will be in the spotlight. You’ll find plenty of computer deals on Black Friday, it’s true, but you’ll see those deals repeated (or slightly improved) on Cyber Monday when eBay, Newegg and Amazon target tech shoppers.
And don’t forget about accessories. External storage, memory cards, cables, keyboards, headphones, earbuds and the like will all be marked down as well. Also, with so many working from home, expect demand for home office equipment to be high. If you are looking for deals on monitors, printers or desk chairs, shop early.
Clothing: Department stores and clothing retailers have been hit hard by the pandemic. In the past, Cyber Monday has had nice deals on clothing. This year expect clothing stores to offer significant discounts during Cyber Monday. Clothing sellers, such as ASOS, Old Navy, J.Crew, Gap and others, have a fantastic Cyber Monday tradition for clothing shoppers — sitewide discount codes. Instead of hunting for product-specific deals, just select what you want, enter the promo code and get 30% to 50% off your entire cart.
While Black Friday may boast deep discounts on specific items, we think sitewide promo codes are a far more time-efficient way to save because you don”t have to worry about buying specific products.
Travel: Save your online travel bookings for Cyber Monday. Even though the travel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, you’ll still find airlines offering heavily discounted tickets on certain routes and travel sites offering flash deals on vacation packages. And with some airlines still dropping change fees, expect deals to be more flexible than in years past and the discounts to be steep for domestic travel.
Booking sites, cruise lines and resorts alike are eager to sell inventory to recover from the impact of the pandemic, and Cyber Monday deals should be enticing. And if you miss the boat entirely, you”ll have another chance: The day after Cyber Monday is Travel Tuesday.
Keep in mind that travel restrictions may still impact international travel from the United States.
Online subscriptions, streaming services and educational software: Cyber Monday began as the online shopping counterpoint to Black Friday. So, one little-known area with big potential discounts, especially during the pandemic, is online subscriptions. This is your opportunity to try out new streaming services, such as Paramount Plus or Disney+, that will potentially have subscription discounts, get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions and score a discounted Rosetta Stone or MasterClass membership. And top up your to-listen list with Audible.
Buy on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday
Smart home devices: With people spending more time at home because of the pandemic, demand for DIY and home upgrades will be higher. Smart home assistants (including Amazon’s Echo and Google Home) fall in price for the entirety of Thanksgiving weekend. Plus, smart lights, smart doorbells and smart thermostats will be on sale, too. In past years, there have been no significant changes in price throughout the weekend. And deals we see on Black Friday either continue through Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday or reappear on Cyber Monday.
So, if you”re looking for smart home deals, you can shop all weekend long.
Phones: Phone deals are plentiful on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And with the release of the new iPhone 13 and new Google Pixel options, there will be plenty of new models on the market. We’ve noticed a slight change for the latest phone models between Friday and Monday. Black Friday has trended toward retail-gift-cards-with-purchase deals, while Cyber Monday deals were more likely to be BOGO specials offered by carriers. So you may want to take that into account, depending on which type of deal you’d rather receive. But, if you’re in the market for a new phone, keep your eyes peeled for deals the whole weekend.
What to buy near or after Christmas
If you prefer to shop at the last minute, there are plenty of savings to be had in the days surrounding Christmas, including:
Toys and games: Retailers eager to offload remaining toys and games will start marking them down the week of Christmas. So, these items make great last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers. Video games will likely see discounts around this time as well.
Holiday decor and seasonal items: Shop a few days before Christmas, or better yet, the day after, to score 50% off or more on lights, ornaments, artificial trees, wrapping paper and other seasonal items. Retailers want this stuff out, and you can easily take advantage of the discounts and save it for next year. If festive decor isn”t your thing, you”ll be able to save on holiday makeup pallets and beauty kits as well. Once the holiday packaging is removed, it”s just like any shimmery eyeshadow pallet or nail polish set.
Clothing and housewares: Department stores generally run sales on the days after Christmas. This will be especially true with stores trying to sell inventory they have too much of because of the pandemic. Stores know they”ll be getting a lot of traffic with so many people returning gifts — and hope to convince shoppers to make an impulse self-gifting purchase or two.