There’s a lot of noise out there about how Black Friday deals aren’t what they used to be.
Thanks to summer sales like Amazon Prime Day, early holiday deals that kick off in October, and the buzz around China’s Singles’ Day in November, many shoppers are sick of hearing about promotions before Black Friday even rolls around.
Despite the proliferation of what have in essence become year-round deals, experts contend that when planned properly, consumers can still snag big savings on Black Friday.
According to the number-crunchers at NerdWallet and BestBlackFriday.com, the best strategy is to go straight for the doorbusters, and avoid the temptation of add-on items that will likely see deeper discounts later in the season.
“Not every deal you will see for Black Friday is a great deal,” said NerdWallet’s Sean McQuay. “Stores try to lure you in and cross-sell you.”
According to McQuay, Black Friday’s greatest deals tend to be on electronics. Some of the best promotions he’s seen this season include Target‘s 25 percent off all Beats Wireless Headphones, Best Buy‘s $125 savings on an iPad Air 2, and $40 off a Fitbit Flex Wristband at Wal-Mart.
As for TVs — a perennial favorite among Black Friday shoppers — Phil Dengler, who runs deal tracking website BestBlackFriday.com, said Amazon and Best Buy are offering the biggest deals of the season.
Amazon is once again selling an unnamed 32-inch TV for $75, matching its price from Amazon Prime Day. It also has a 50-inch LED HDTV from a yet-to-be disclosed brand for $149.99, which is available only on its app. Meanwhile, Best Buy is selling a 49-inch Toshiba HDTV for $149.99.
“We’ve never seen a 49-inch TV priced this low,” Dengler said.
Dengler said it’s worth noting that the Toshiba TV is a Best Buy exclusive, meaning it may not have all the features that shoppers would expect to find from that brand. Still, he contends that is likely the better bargain, since Amazon has not yet disclosed the brand associated with its deal.
Overall, Dengler said Best Buy’s deals are “so much better compared to the other top retailers.” In addition to its TV deals, they include a Samsung 40-inch TV and XBox One bundle for $500 — or $230 in savings.
“Best Buy across the board is offering great prices for the items that people want,” he said.Wal-Mart, on the other hand, fell short of Dengler’s expectations. The world’s largest retailer this year is stepping away from its previous deal cadence, which staggered its savings throughout the day.
In an effort to simplify its sales message, Wal-Mart this year will kick off all its doorbusters at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
By and large, Dengler said Black Friday doorbuster deals live up to the buzz. He cited a study he conducted earlier this year, which found that shoppers who missed out on last year’s Black Friday laptop, tablet and TV deals would have lost an average $48.43.
Still, he agreed that not every deal is worth it.
NerdWallet’s McQuay listed apparel and toys as items to avoid on Black Friday, saying they tend to get marked down closer to the Christmas holiday. Apparel, in particular, is expected to sell at a deep discount later this season, as warmer than usual temperatures have left retailers with bloated inventory levels.
As always, McQuay said, shoppers need to weigh the pros and cons of playing chicken with retailers on certain items, adding that it doesn’t do a person much good to try to save $5 if the product they want sells out.
“As with anything it’s really a tradeoff,” he said.