Personal Finance

'Black Friday has turned into Cyber Month' – here are the best deals

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Key Points
  • 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.
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Black Friday in the age of Covid

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.

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For example, Black Friday sales are already live on Target, Best Buy and Home Depot with deals like half-off Beats wireless noise-canceling headphones and 35% off a Dewalt cordless drill kit.

Discounts on apparel and accessories average more than 50% at J.C. Penney, Macy's and Kohl's, where fleece pullovers and joggers are currently marked down to $8 with the coupon code "THANKS."

Woroch's top picks:

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.

Amazon already announced plans for a Cyber Monday Deals Weekend, which will run from Nov. 28 to 30, with deep discounts on items such as the Ring Video Doorbell, Echo Show and Fire tablets.

Ramhold's top picks:

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.

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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.

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