This story comes from partner site Consumer World.
“Hunting for the best Black Friday deals this year is going to be a month-long adventure because the coronavirus has caused retailers to spread out their sales sporadically throughout November to limit store crowding,” explained Consumer World founder Edgar Dworsky, who has been tracking Black Friday promotions for decades.
Historically, Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day and the following two days feature some of the lowest prices of the year. Now sellers are running much longer sales, or dividing their Black Friday deals into multiple events over the course of the month, as Walmart is doing.
Some sales will start online before they do at brick-and-mortar locations. So shoppers are advised to keep doing their homework by comparing products and prices, paying special attention to when and where each sale begins and ends.
Online shopping is expected to surge because it will help avoid possible COVID-19 exposure in crowded stores.
Consumer World offers these holiday shopping tips to help bag the best bargains.
1. Read the ads
Preview the Black Friday sale circulars now at blackfriday.gottadeal.com. And to make price comparisons easier, you can also get a list there of sale items by category, such as all HDTVs or laptops.
Leaked copies of retailers’ ads are very late this year, so thorough planning is harder. Early shoppers may miss out on better deals introduced closer to Black Friday.
Also, get on retailers’ email lists, and check their websites and social media to hear about additional “hidden” bargains and deals.
2. Evaluate the deals
Not all Black Friday advertised items are the best deals. To separate the ho-hum deals from the good ones, use a pricing tool, such as the Price Checker on Consumer World’s site or camelcamelcamel.com (to compare today’s price for an item to what was charged over the past year at Amazon and other sellers).
If shopping online, find out the total price, including shipping and tax, if any.
Lastly, check the reputation of unfamiliar online sellers at ResellerRatings.com.
3. Research the right product
A low price on a lousy product is no bargain. Check websites where professionals evaluate products, such as Consumer Reports, Wirecutter, Rtings.com (TVs and electronics), PCMag (computers), best/worst toy lists, etc. Check the user reviews posted after most product descriptions at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Walmart.com and other retailers.
4. Save with ‘triple plays’
To save the most, combine the primary ways to save: Buy items at a good sale price, use percent-off/dollars-off/bonus points coupons offered by some stores to lower that price even more, and look for items that also have a cash-back rebate.
Kohl’s tends to have many bonus offers.
5. The early bird gets the doorbusters
Find out which day a sale begins online and shop close to the beginning of the sale because quantities are limited, and no rain checks will be given, generally. The same advice applies in stores, but social distancing rules will limit the number of people allowed inside.
Opening hours vary because most stores are closed on Thanksgiving this year. Expect a return to early morning, 5 a.m.-type openings on Black Friday itself if you choose to venture out rather than shop online.
Great deals and doorbusters in November (check ads for start dates):
- Walmart: TCL 55-inch HDTV: $148 on Nov. 11, 7 p.m. online; SanDisk 128GB micro SD card: $13; Netgear Orbi whole-house Wi-Fi: regularly $199, now $99
- Kohl’s: Small appliances: $2.14 after coupon and rebate; Google Nest smart speaker: $18.99
- Macy’s: Ladlow/Lexah sofas: regularly $899, now $399; various small appliances: $7.99 after rebate; Ninja blender/food processor: regularly $249.99, now $99.99 (anticipated sale)
- J.C. Penney: Various small appliances and kitchenware: $7.99 after rebate; boots for the family: regularly $40 to $89, now $19.99; extra-30%-off coupon for select apparel and shoes
- Home Depot: Genie belt drive garage door opener: regularly $178, now $78; Rayovac 40-count AA/AAA batteries: $5.88
- BJ’s Wholesale Club: Cuisinart Professional 15-piece nonstick hard anodized cookware set: $99.99
- Amazon: Apple AirPods: regularly $159, now $99 (anticipated sale); Echo Dot 3: $18.99; Fire TV Stick Lite: $17.99
- Best Buy: KitchenAid Pro 5 Plus mixer: regularly $499.99, now $199.99; Lenovo 15-inch touchscreen i5 processor laptop (but not HD): regularly $599.99, now $349.99; Norelco rechargeable Tripleheader shaver: regularly $49.99, now $24.99 (anticipated sale)
- Old Navy: 50% off everything (anticipated sale)
6. Beat the early birds
Some Black Friday sale prices are available now, will start soon, or have ended already. For example, one of the three parts of Walmart’s sale event is over. The last two parts begin online on Nov. 11 and Nov. 25 and in stores on Nov. 14 and Nov. 27.
Best Buy’s sale begins on Nov. 22, with some earlier previews. The biggest sales at Kohl’s begin on Nov. 22 (online and in stores) and Nov. 26 (online) and Nov. 27 (in stores).
You must double-check dates and times to determine when each sale begins and whether any particular items are available online, in stores or both.
And this year, procrastinators can expect huge sales on Cyber Monday, Nov. 30.
7. Check the return policy
Before buying, find out the store’s return policy and if return shipping is free for online orders. Many stores have extended their return deadlines into January.
8. Get a gift receipt
Make returns easier for gift recipients by asking the store for a gift receipt and including it in the gift box. Without a receipt, a refund may be denied outright, or may be limited to only an equal exchange, or to a merchandise credit for the lowest price the item has sold for in the recent past.
9. Use the right credit card
Certain credit cards offer valuable free benefits. For example, don’t be pressured into buying a service contract when you can get up to an extra year of warranty coverage free just by using some better credit cards.
Some cards also offer a return protection guarantee (they will refund the purchase price within 90 days if the store will not), or offer a sale price guarantee (they will give you back the difference if an item goes on sale within 60 days of purchase).
Be warned, however, that many cards have dropped these benefits, so double-check with your issuer.
10. Save more with price-match guarantees
Stores generally will not honor price matches from Black Friday through Cyber Monday but will after that period. Keep checking the prices of items you bought and you may be entitled to get back some money if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.
For example, if Target lowers its prices by Dec. 24, you can get back the difference for items purchased there Nov. 1-28.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.