By most accounts, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promise some of the lowest prices of the season.
And in 2023, more people than ever plan to take advantage of the five-day shopping event that begins on Thanksgiving Day and continues through the following Monday, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.
This year, holiday spending during the Thanksgiving week may hit a record as consumers try to maximize the weekend’s sales, a separate Deloitte Black Friday-Cyber Monday survey found.
However, these are not necessarily the best deals of the year, according to Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at DealNews.com.
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According to WalletHub’s holiday shopping survey, 35% of items at major retailers will offer no savings compared to their pre-Black Friday prices.
A separate analysis of previous Black Friday sales found that 98% of the deals were the same price or cheaper at other points during the year. None were cheaper on Black Friday alone.
Stores try to tempt you with discounts, but “I don’t know that Black Friday has the same level of value that it did years ago,” Ramhold said.
What not to buy on Black Friday
Typically, Black Friday is a great time to find rock-bottom prices on fall clothing — including flannels, denim, boots and accessories — and televisions, like a Samsung 75″ smart TV now on sale for less than $600 at Best Buy.
This year, there are also particularly good deals on smartphones, including Apple’s newest iPhone 15, Ramhold found.
With toys, however, it could pay to hold out until those items are further discounted later in the season. “Unless it’s one of the hottest toys, which may sell out, you can wait until December,” Ramhold advised.
Exercise equipment, cosmetics, jewelry and bedding tend to be marked down more in January, while furniture and mattress deals are often better over other holiday weekends throughout the year, such as Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, Ramhold said.
Some discounts may have already come and gone. Promotions across a range of categories, including apparel, appliances and computers, were significantly higher last month than in 2021 and 2022, data from Adobe Analytics shows.
A Black Friday sale sign in the cosmetics and fragrance department of the Macy’s flagship store in New York, US, on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A price-tracking browser extension such as CamelCamelCamel or Keepa can help you keep an eye on price changes and alert you when a price drops. Honey will alert you to lower prices elsewhere and scan for applicable coupon codes.
Consumer-savings expert Andrea Woroch recommends stacking discounts, for example, combining credit card rewards with store coupons and then using a cash-back site such as CouponCabin.com or Rakuten to earn money back on those purchases.
Finally, take pictures of your receipts using the Fetch app and earn points which can then be redeemed for gift cards at stores like Walmart, Target and Amazon.
For more on Black Friday sales, check out NBC Select’s recent roundup of the best early Black Friday deals.