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Experts share Black Friday shopping tips

Two shopping experts share tips for the weekend with Steve On Your Side.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Laptops sit on display in a Best Buy store Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, in southeast Denver.

DENVER — This reporter of more than 15 years recalls a lot of Friday mornings after Thanksgiving standing camped out in front of big box stores, talking to excited and often tired shoppers.

But these days, Black Friday is less about long lines and more about online shopping – with deals stretching out all week and culminating in Cyber Monday.

How do you navigate this new environment? I called two shopping experts – Kristin McGrath, the editor of RetailMeNot and BlackFriday.com and Trae Bodge, an independent lifestyle and shopping blogger and expert. Here are their tips for navigating the deals this weekend.

What to buy this weekend 

One of the constants of Black Friday – even in this new era – is that tech deals are often the best of the season on Black Friday. Some of the best deals on TVs happen on Black Friday, comparable only to the deals in weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

“Black Friday has always had and still has some of the best tech deals of the year,” McGrath said. “TVs, headphones, smart home gadgets, countertop kitchen gadgets. Everything’s on sale and everything’s discounted.”

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Shopper moves down aisle past boxes of big-screen televisions on display in a Best Buy store Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, in southeast Denver.

Keeping on the tech front, Bodge said the deals on Apple products on Black Friday and this weekend are often some of the best around.

“Apple, themselves, they’re not great at discounting,” she said. “However what you sometimes see are retailers that carry Apple products sometimes have more wiggle room with the margins that they’re able to offer more exciting discounts. So if you happen to need a new phone, or AirPods or Mac, now is the time to get it.”

Bodge also said beauty products tend to be on deep discount this weekend – as well as gift sets.

What not to buy this weekend

Both McGrath and Bodge warned of deals that seem appealing on the price tag but aren’t as deep of discounts in reality.

“Toys will be discounted on Black Friday, but in my experience the discounts tend to be better in December,” Bodge said.

Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux
Shoppers look over holiday merchandise on display at a Target store Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, in Orlando, Fla.

She did note, if you spot a toy on a “hot toy” toy list, you should buy it, as it may be harder to find closer to the holiday.

McGrath cautioned against buying appliances as they tend to go on a better sale after the first of the new year. She also said holiday décor sees better discounts closer to the holiday and after.

Don’t take a deal at face value

This is a tip mostly for in-store shoppers. Bodge said she sees a lot of consumers believing price tags when they should be shopping a little more.

“One of the biggest mistakes for me on Black Friday is taking a price at face value,” she said. “And what I mean by that is you’re in store and you find a sale and you just assume that’s the best price.”

“You should always take a moment to look at your phone and search the item and see if you’re getting the best price there," she said.

McGrath said every shopper should have a plan going into this weekend.

“Don’t let yourself get sucked into impulse buys. Go in with a plan,” she said. “Be careful of some of the various doorbuster TVs. Those are sometimes lower quality models.”

More advice

“There’s no reason to wait for Cyber Monday,” McGrath said. “We’ve seen retailers pretty much offer a deals marathon that starts before Thanksgiving and runs through Cyber Monday. And we see a lot of recycled Black Friday deals on Cyber Monday.”

“Even if you start your Black Friday shopping on Black Friday there are still going to be plenty of deals on Black Friday. Some retailers will even be releasing deals that are Thanksgiving and Black Friday only.”

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Shopper passes by window sign for Black Friday sales in a children's clothing store in an outlet mall on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Thornton, Colo.

Bodge warns if you’re planning on buying items online, be sure to check the store’s return policy. During the pandemic, many retailers offered free shipping on returns. But that’s going away.

“Now retailers are realizing they can’t afford the free shipping anymore so many retailers are starting to charge for returns,” she said.

She said the easiest way to ensure you don’t get caught with a return problem is to buy an item from a retailer with a physical location where you can return an item.

Have a consumer problem or a question you want us to tackle on Steve On Your Side? Email SteveOnYourSide@9news.com.


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