Sure it's time for turkey and stuffing, but it's also time for some of the craziest sales of the year. So where can you find the best deals? And how do you separate the items you should buy on Black Friday from the 'filler deals', the products stores promote as marked down, when in reality they'll get much cheaper as the holidays approach?
First, lots of stores are planning to open ON THANKSGIVING — KMart, Sears, Walmart, Target, the Gap — and while this supposedly offers consumers more options, I have to wonder just how much farther from the meaning of the holiday we could possibly go.
Best Doorbuster Deals
Merchants say they will offer 70% of their deals both in stores and online. But in reality, most of the insanely priced stuff will be the limited quantity in-store only doorbusters — these are products the stores mark down so much that they take a loss. The whole point is to get you to walk in the door and then buy other items that give the store a higher profit margin.
If you are willing to get up early or even spend the night in line, this year, some of the best doorbuster deals are on TVs. Since there are no new features to get consumers to upgrade, the only lever retailers can pull is to significantly lower prices, especially on bigger sets.
- On Thanksgiving night, Sears has a Toshiba 50-inch LED that normally retails for $849, marked down to $299.
- On Black Friday, Best Buy has a Toshiba 40-inch LCD for $179.
- Smaller sets are also way cheaper. Kmart has a 32-inch LCD that will sell on Thanksgiving for $97 — while supplies last.
But remember, if you don't get one of these early morning doorbusters, wait to buy. Television prices typically get much lower in December and bottom out after New Year's.
One search tip- If you comb through the newspaper ads, it's hard to find what you're looking for and determine which deals are actually real, so I recommend using Black Friday deal aggregator sites like BFads.net or Dealnews.com.
Best Non-Doorbuster Deals
Android phones: This year Amazon, Wirefly, and others are offering Android phones for under a dollar— making Android phones my first sure recommendation for what you should consider buying on Black Friday. In the past, these deal have only been for new subscribers, but this year there are also good Android deals even if you're only upgrading.
iTunes Gift Cards: The second thing you absolutely should buy on Black Friday — iTunes gift cards. Toys r Us has them at basically a 30% discount, Sam's Club and Best Buy at 20% off. I buy enough to last me a whole year's worth of new apps, music, and movies. Plus, they make great stocking stuffers.
Gaming consoles: Games and the consoles to play them on are perennial favorites. And while there may not be much variation on the listed prices, you can often find great deals on bundles — packages that include top games along with the hardware. That's where retailers will try to add value and make their deals stand out.
Apple products: Apple traditionally has its one big sale of the year on Black Friday, both in store and online. While you should be able to find many of their gadgets for 7-15% off, don't expect all Apple devices to go on sale. Will the new iPhone 5 get a discount? I wouldn't bet on it. Also don't assume Apple has the lowest prices on its own products. Traditionally on Black Friday, bundled deals from Best Buy, Meijer, and Walmart have been better overall deals because they include significant iTunes gift cards that beat the price cuts at the Apple store.
[Related: How to Get a Discount on Apple]
One Thing Not To Buy on Black Friday — Toys
Unless it's an item you expect to run out, Cabbage Patch style, wait until the last minute. Toy prices always drop as Christmas gets closer.