Nothing is normal this year, but Holiday shopping is like upside-down-dramatically different. Black Friday sales started in October and most “doorbuster” deals are happening online already too.
Here are some insider tips to save time, money, and stress — while finding the very best deals on the year’s top gadgets.
#1. SHOP EARLY AND SHOP ONLINE!
Shop early and shop online — that’s the big mantra for true savings this year — as retailers big and small are posting huge deals already.
Amazon kicked off its Black Friday Deals Week TODAY (Friday, November 20)!
Target’s “Deal Days” span the entire month of November and BestBuy’s rolling out a bunch of deep discounts available online starting this Sunday — November. 22.
It’s tempting to wait until the last minute to see if better deals emerge — but product shortages, shipping delays, and record demand for electronics make the best time to buy this year — the minute you decide on the product you want.
#2. TECH TO TRACK THE BEST DEALS
Use simple tech tools to track prices and see if that deal really is a good one. There are several ways to do this easily including:
- CamelCamelCamel — This is a powerful website that monitors and tracks prices for both new and used items listed on Amazon.
- Honey — This is a browser extension that automatically lets you know if there’s a cheaper price at another retailer. It also finds and applies coupons when you go to checkout online.
- Google added its own Price Insights tool this year too — to let you know if the offer price is higher or lower than average, and if you can find it cheaper somewhere else … In addition, you’ll also be able to select a product and ask Google to track its price, so you can get an alert when the discount gets deeper.
- There are cashback sites too — like Rakuten/Wikibuy/RetailMeNot’s Deal Finder:
- Paribus – scans receipts in your inbox to finds money if a price drops
#3. WHAT TO BUY/WHEN
Keep your eye on the prize, and don’t get sucked into add-ons and upsells like expensive cables, extended warranties, or “no-interest” flex-pay offers from retailers themselves that could come back to haunt you. Instead, look for what really helps you during this crazy time — things like things WiFi extenders, laptops, and even back-up storage devices.
- Black Friday: Sees biggest discounts on TV’s – but steer clear of off-brand and stripped-down feature models. Double-check the model numbers and make sure you’re not saving $50 only to get a crappy model you’ll need to replace in a year or two.
- Small Business Saturday is a good time to buy computers — as well as support small businesses everywhere. Check Etsy, eBay, and websites for the small businesses in your town or city. Also, check the retailers’ social media sites — just make sure you’re actually dealing with the store you love — by checking the phone number, customer service line, and location.
- Sunday: Time to buy the toys on your list — discounted about 20%, as well as any furniture you may need (with average markdowns of 10%). If one of the must-have toys is on the most popular top 20 list this year, it’s best to grab it right away, while it’s still in stock.
- Cyber Monday: Everything else … It’s like there’s sales fatigue by the time Cyber Monday rolls around, so retailers are more likely to discount just about everything. Cyber Monday has been outselling Black Friday for a few years already, and that’s when you’re more likely to see 15% percent-off sales across most items on all the major sites.
TAKEAWAY: You’ve waited this long — time to check out already! But there still are a few exceptions — like mattresses, bedding and linens, outdoor gear, and engagement rings! (See below for more details.)
#4 EVERYTHING ELSE
- Plan to wrap up your online shopping by Dec. 11 — two weeks before Christmas — to ensure that items arrive on time with standard shipping options
- Newegg, Target and Best Buy are all offering price-match protection for select items this holiday season, meaning that if the retailer drops its price on one of those products you’ve already bought, you can get refunded the difference. Just be sure to read the fine print before you buy (Best Buy, for instance, requires you to create a free MyBestBuy account to be eligible).
#5 WAIT UNTIL 2021 TO BUY:
- Mattresses. There will be a few Black Friday mattress discounts this year, but the best deals historically arrive in February. Unless your mattress is keeping you up at night, wait it out. The prices will be better, and you’ll have a better range of options, too.
- Outdoor gear. REI doesn’t participate in Black Friday, but it holds two yearly sales, in May and September. During those sales, you will have a wider array of discounted gear to choose from, and a variety of retailers to choose from because Backcountry and Amazon typically match many of REI’s discounts.
- Bedding and linens. If you need a new comforter, it’s worth waiting a few months. We’ve come to expect better deals on a wider range of options in January and February. That’s when department stores typically host their seasonal white sales, offering bedding, linens, and other household goods for cheap.
- Diamonds/Jewelry – Biggest sales happen in March. November through February is the most popular time of year for couples to get engaged, so rings are usually in high demand this time of year. You’ll usually find better deals on rings in the summer months, when business slows down for jewelers. Insider tip: If you’re in a pinch and need a ring before the holidays, try shopping around online. Online jewelers often have better deals than brick-and-mortar stores because they don’t have the overhead costs, and need to compete with bigger brick-and-mortar brand names.
- Cars: While some dealerships and used car lots will offer decent deals and incentives for Black Friday, you’re likely to find a better deal after Christmas during end-of-the-year sales. In fact, vehicles that didn’t sell during Black Friday are likely to be marked down even further by December. Insider tip: If you have your eye on a specific model, time your purchase right before a new release to get the best price.”