Black Friday has quickly morphed from a predominantly in-store experience to an online shopping craze that lasts an entire month. Even before pandemic circumstances deterred shoppers from heading to stores, things were starting to shift.
The day after Thanksgiving once marked the start of the holiday shopping season, but now, it’s just the peak of a month-long deals bonanza. Best Buy kicked things off this season on Oct. 27, nearly a full month before actual Black Friday, with Target, Amazon, and Walmart following close behind. The discounts are slowly trickling in and we predict they’ll only get better as we inch closer to the “Cyber 5.”
With an overall hunger for savings amidst inflation-concerned customers, the questions arise this year more than ever: What are the best Black Friday shopping tips? Should you wait until the big day to snag a deal? Will things be cheaper on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? How can you find the best deals?
Black Friday season may be chaotic, but getting organized and knowing what you’re looking for will have you shopping like a well-oiled machine. This guide tells you where to get updates on the best deals, how to take advantage of coupons and discount codes, what apps to sign up for, and how to be automatically alerted when a price drops. This Black Friday, you can actually enjoy online shopping instead of feeling like you’re in the fire alarm episode of The Office.
1. Plan your attack
We’ll spare you the sports references, but going into Black Friday without a game plan is risky as hell — and a great way to end up with buyer’s remorse.
If you’re unsure of what exactly you’re looking for this season, you might want to take a glimpse at all of the major retailers’ ad scans to get an idea of what’s popular, what’s getting discounted, and when the best time is to buy certain items. Make note that there are a ton of ad scans to sort through. To make your life a little easier, you can also just follow our mega list of deals from all major retailers instead. TL;DR: we already did the sorting for you.
While planning your attack, be sure to set a budget to prevent overspending. It’s easy to get click-happy when you see all of the sparkly discounts in front of you.
2. Organize your Black Friday wishlist
It’s no surprise that Amazon’s Black Friday sale is the most highly-anticipated of the year. If you plan on shopping at Amazon this season, do yourself a favor and get your wishlist in order. Every product page on the retail giant’s website has an “add to list” button. Do this with all of the gadgets and gizmos on your shopping list this season to organize everything, view it all at a glance, and even rank items based on priority. You’ll be able to see which products have gone on sale and seamlessly scoop them up before they’re gone.
Shopping from your phone? It’d be smart to download mobile apps from your favorite stores — Walmart, Target, and Amazon are three biggies that will be clutch. They’ll obviously be plastering their biggest deals across the screen, making things organized and easy to navigate even on a bumpy commute or at a loud relative’s house.
Not only will the apps help you out on the go, but they’ll also give you access to exclusive app-only perks like wishlist alerts, personalized suggestions, scan-and-go features, and more. The Amazon app even has an “Upcoming” tab, where you can see deals before they go live. This will be extra handy for avid Prime members as Amazon doesn’t release an official Black Friday ad scan like most retailers do.
4. Take advantage of Alexa’s exclusive features
Got a newer Echo smart speaker? Surprise — you can take advantage of exclusive features. Open up your Alexa mobile app and turn on the advanced deal alerts feature (you’ll find it under More > Settings > Notifications > Amazon Shopping), then check the Deal Recommendations and Shopping Recommendations. If you already have a wishlist organized and ready to go, you’ll get a pop-up alert or a yellow ring light on your Echo speaker whenever Alexa finds out about an upcoming deal on one of the items on your list. Alexa will even let you know if an item on your wishlist is going on sale up to 24 hours before the sale goes live, so you can plan accordingly.
So technically, it’s really our job to find the best deals, but we’ll let you in on a little secret. When shopping for deals at Amazon, we always reference CamelCamelCamel to see the historical data on the sale prices for a particular item. At a glance, it allows you to see just how good that deal actually is (or isn’t).
6. Utilize Buy Now, Pay Later
If you can’t afford to pay for your Black Friday haul in one lump sum, don’t be afraid to take advantage of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options. When used responsibly, BNPL apps (like Affirm on Amazon) can help you nab the deals you want while still making your monthly rent. Just note that BNPL services use a “soft inquiry” to determine your credit. While this shouldn’t affect your credit score, there’s no promise that your payment history won’t be reported to credit bureaus.
Not all heroes wear capes. (It’s us. We’re the heroes.) Mashable’s Black Friday page is the hub for pretty much every Black Friday sale that matters, with links to all of our coverage, like that massive master list of the best Black Friday 2023 deals plus spotlight deals broken down by retailer (Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, etc) as well as by categories like TVs, robot vacuums, or laptops. This will save you from wasting time to trying skim websites on your own and getting overwhelmed.
If you’re trying to get some shopping done early, any pre-Black Friday deals we find can be found here, as well as early deals that we think might be even cheaper on Black Friday. Stores also love to throw in sneaky coupon codes or freebies. These can be easy to miss when you’re in a hurry to order, so we’ll let you know when we spot one.
Not about to be glued to the internet during family time? Cute — we will be, though. If you want to stay in the loop via email, we’ve got you covered. In the weeks leading up to the big sale days, our regular newsletters will be filled with pre-Black Friday deals that you may want to hop on early.
The Mashable Deals newsletter is also just a clutch thing to get in general. True, we’re probably biased, but we really think this is one email you won’t be annoyed with when it pops up in your inbox. You’ll be sent a quick rundown of deals we think you’ll care about, like Amazon’s daily lightning deals or really solid discounts on popular streaming services.