There were more than 137 million Americans that went shopping over the Black Friday weekend in 2016, but the largest day in the history of U.S. commerce was Cyber Monday. Consumers spent more than $3.45 billion online in just that one day. That number points to a lot of people choosing to seek out the best deals online and avoid the crowd when possible. The natural question for this year is: Should you brave the crowds to find that huge discount or just search for what you want online.
There are fantastic deals available for both. It generally depends on the products you want to find the best deals on. To make sure you are prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, you will need a bit of planning and the assistance of some technology. Here is our simple and effective guide to get the most out of your deal hunting this year.
Make a List of What You Actually Need
This might seem like obvious advice, but it’s the most important shopping weekend to make a shopping list and stick to it. Nearly every store you walk into and every website you visit will be setup to get you to buy things you didn’t even know you wanted or needed. There are so many great deals that it is easy to find yourself buying things you definitely don’t need. A shopping list will make it much easier to use technology to find the best deals; instead of buying something because the retailer says it’s 50% off.
Setup Price Comparison Apps & Browser Extensions
Technology is your friend as your prepare to find the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There is an abundance of price comparison and shopping apps for your smartphone that will help automate the process so you don’t have to run all over town. We covered the best browser extensions to save money online in a previous post if you will be shopping from your home computer.
If you’ll be braving the crowds of Black Friday, you’ll want to install the best price comparison shopping apps for your phone. PC Magazine published a list of the best reviewed shopping apps. ShopSavvy is a must download for this week. We also recommend setting up an iBotta account. Most people will end up using them regularly after Black Friday, when they find great discounts and cash back offers on many things they already buy.
Once you get these apps and browser extensions setup, you’ll be able to start adding your Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping list. You’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll be able to find out which stores will have deals and special offers. At least you’ll have a great reason to wait in line at a certain store if you know something you really need is selling at a huge discount.
Shop at Stores with Price Match & Return Policies
You will consistently get better deals and find yourself with buyer’s remorse far less often if you shop at stores with a great price match and return policy. We detailed the best price match policies in a previous post and these stores will certainly be great places to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Most of these same stores have consumer-friendly return policies too. If you find a great deal somewhere else online, you should definitely check out their return policy. That deal won’t feel so great if you find the product was not as advertised and the store doesn’t accept returns.
Know What You Should Not Buy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
The final step to prepare yourself to get the best deals is getting a clear understanding of what you should not buy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. There are many items like gift cards and winter clothes that might seem like a good deal, but they are likely to be discounted even more in December and January.
Gift card deals during Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday might seem appealing, but you are likely to find much better deals in January. Many of those gifts cards that people don’t want to use will be available on sites like GiftCardGranny, Raise, and CardPool for substantial discounts. Every year, the best deals on gift cards can be found after the holiday season.
You should generally be skeptical of items marked as Black Friday models, especially electronics. These products are often just unsold inventory or low-quality knock-offs of more popular products. You are likely to see these deals with many 1080p TVs as 4k TVs become more popular. The reality is that 4k TVs will be heavily discounted as well. You should look for a 4k TV deal and avoid those 1080p Black Friday showroom specials.
Jewelry, fitness equipment, and tools are items that you will find Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that aren’t really great discounts. Most of these items will be discounted at the highest points early next year. These are all items that have substantial demand during this time of year and typically see that demand drop after the holiday season. That’s when you will get much better discounts.
Follow these simple tips and much of the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday will not impact you. You’ll know what you need, where you can get a deal, and what items are worth waiting on. Happy deal hunting and remember to have some fun.