- Major retailers kicked off their Black Friday deals ahead of Thanksgiving this year.
- Shopping experts weigh in on what to buy now and what can wait.
Black Friday — the biggest shopping day of the year — is no longer the day after Thanksgiving.
Instead of one-day doorbuster deals, retailers like Walmart and Home Depot have been rolling out discounts in the days, or even weeks, ahead of the official start of the holiday season. And many of the best bargains are online, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to keep shoppers out of stores.
"Black Friday has turned into Cyber Month," said consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.
Woroch's top picks:
- Samsung 70" smart TV for $530 — Best Buy is offering this top brand for $220 off with free delivery.
- 23Me Health and Ancestry kit for $99 — Amazon has the popular DNA kits for half off, a savings of $100.
- Home Accents pre-lit artificial tree for $79 — Although it usually pays to wait for deals on holiday décor until after Christmas, this tree is already marked down 60% at Home Depot.
With less emphasis on Black Friday itself, expect sales to continue throughout the weekend and into early next week, according to Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com.
Ramhold's top picks:
- LG 75" 4K smart TV for $649.99 — Brand-name sets this size usually cost upward of $1,000 at Best Buy.
- Apple AirPods Pro for $169 — Walmart's Black Friday deal, which kicks off Wednesday, Nov. 25, shaves $30 off the price of this popular Apple product.
- Video games from $9.99 — This deal at Target features more than 50 games for the PS4, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
However, Small Business Saturday could get lost in the fray, Ramhold cautioned, unless consumers make an effort to shop at their local retailers. Many small businesses were particularly hard hit by this year's coronavirus-related restrictions.
"This is the year to show them that support," Ramhold said.
Instead of typical holiday presents, consider buying gift certificates for beauty services at a local salon or teeth whitening from your dentist, Woroch suggested.
Still, with many Americans under financial strain due to the pandemic, shoppers plan to spend less overall this year — shelling out an average of $997.79 in total, down $50 from 2019.
Here's how to stretch those dollars
"Sign up for the emails of a few of your favorite retailers so you'll know what they're planning," advised shopping expert Trae Bodge. Or use a site like BlackFriday.com to see all the ads in one place.
Then, before making a purchase online, try a browser extension, which will ensure that you'll be alerted to available savings as you browse, Bodge said.
Tools like Rakuten, for example, offer up to 15% cash back from retailers like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ulta and Old Navy, while Cently automatically applies the coupon with the biggest discount to your order.
Paribus goes one step further, notifying you of recent price drops after you make a purchase and even requesting a price adjustment for you.
And, finally, put off some purchases until prices fall even further. The best deals right now will be on toys and electronics, especially TVs, game consoles, tablets, laptops, phones and phone accessories, as well as beauty and fall apparel.
But with other items it pays to wait, Woroch said. Outdoor gear, winter coats, bedding and linens will all be cheaper come January.