Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, and it can get a little intense. Though it’s changed a bit in recent years — lines wrapped around stores before sunrise and frantic races to product displays have now transitioned to online sales — Black Friday still requires some pre-planning.
To prepare you for the big day, we have broken down the basics of what you can expect on Black Friday, plus, expert-advice for how to best prepare before you start to shop — whether you’re braving the crowd or staying in this year.
When is Black Friday 2021?
Black Friday happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, it falls on Friday, Nov. 26.
What time do Black Friday sales usually start?
Despite the holiday being named Black Friday, many retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, have started rolling out deals way before Thanksgiving Day in recent years. Though several big-box stores have vowed to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day this year.
Some retailers have already shared their Black Friday shopping dates and hours for 2021, but we are still waiting on others. Below are the big names we’re keeping our eyes on:
Amazon Black Friday deals 2021
Amazon has disguised its early Black Friday deals as Epic Daily Deals this year. You can find savings on everything from tech to home goods.
Cut down on cleaning time with the help of this popular robot vacuum. It features powerful suction, voice command control and a self-emptying base.
For a limited time, Amazon is marking down select Instant air fryers by up to 36%. The Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 air fryer can air fry, broil, roast, dehydrate, bake and reheat foods, and requires little to no preheating time.
It’s almost time for holiday movie marathons. Upgrade your viewing experience with a new flat screen that’s less than $250 right now.
JBL’s earbuds deliver eight hours of nonstop sound, so you can wear them all day or all night. These were also made with comfort in mind, offering a snug fit and three sizes of ear tips to choose from.
Track your steps and daily activity with the Fitbit Inspire 2. When you buy the fitness tracker, you’ll get a one year Fitbit Premium membership, so you can get personalized insights on how to improve your exercise routine, sleep habits and more.
Walmart Black Friday deals 2021
Walmart released another round of Black Friday savings on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. EST (online), so there are plenty of exciting discounts to shop right now. The next deal drop will be on Nov. 12 at 5 a.m. EST.
Another top-rated robot vacuum on sale right now is this version from Anker. You can connect it to an app on your phone to program cleaning times and routes, so it knows exactly which spots to hit in your home.
Get this toaster oven and air fryer combo for less than $50. With 17 preset functions, you can use the gadget to make a variety of meals and snacks.
This multitasking appliance can brew an entire pot of coffee or a single cup in minutes — it’s up to you. It’s a great pick for anyone entertaining guests this holiday season.
Any little kid will love unwrapping this fast scooter this year. It can ride at 10 MPH for five miles, and once they’re done, it conveniently folds up so that it can be stowed away.
This classic LEGO set is on sale right now for just $20. It’s a bestseller that inspires creativity for endless hours of play.
Target Black Friday deals 2021
Target unveiled its early Black Friday savings on Oct. 31, and is dropping new deals every Sunday throughout the month. You can expect further savings on all things beauty, tech, home and more.
Save $170 on the Beats Studio3 Over-Ear Headphones. They feature Pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling and up to 22 hours of battery life.
With strong suction, advanced whole-machine filtration and a lightweight design, the Dyson V8 Cordless Stick Vacuum will make cleaning your floors a breeze.
The holiday baking season is here! And this cookie sheet and cooling rack set will come in handy when those sugar cookie and peppermint bark cravings hit.
The Ninja Foodi Power Blender & Processor System comes with multiple blades and accessories that you can use to make smoothies, frozen mixed drinks, sauces and more.
Macy’s Black Friday deals 2021
Macy’s started its Black Friday deal specials on Nov. 3. Additional drops will roll out Nov. 11-15, Nov. 16-22 and Nov. 23-27.
Looking to upgrade your bedding? You can score an 40% off a reversible comforter from the Martha Stewart Collection. It provides lightweight warmth and comes in more than a dozen different colors.
Cozy up in this crewneck sweater, which is currently 50% off during Macy’s early Black Friday event.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of baking this season, you’ll want to have a stand mixer in your kitchen. This one has seven speeds and comes with a removable splatter shield, dough hook, whisk and flat beater.
Best Buy Black Friday deals 2021
Best Buy has a number of early Black Friday deals live on its site right now. Best Buy is a Black Friday fan-favorite and consistently has great deals on top electronics. And when you buy an item marked “Black Friday Prices Guaranteed,” if the price drops any lower before Nov. 26, the retailer will refund you for the difference.
You can finally score the AirPods Pro for less than $200! Unlike the original version of AirPods, these feature silicone ear tips that allow you to customize your fit.
You can add this 65-inch flat screen to your cart and save $100 while doing it.
Thanks to a massive markdown, you can save $100 on this Chromebook from Lenovo. It’s an affordable option for anyone working or learning from home right now.
Still haven’t added an air fryer to your kitchen counter? Here’s your chance to grab a highly rated one for less than $40.
Kohl’s Black Friday deals 2021
Kohl’s not only has a reputation of having amazing online Black Friday sales, but it also often starts its deals early. This year, the retailer’s early Black Friday event runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 10. Kohl’s big Black Friday sale will begin online on Nov. 21 at 12:01 a.m. CT and at 8 a.m. in stores and will run through Nov. 26.
Give the gift of relaxation to yourself or someone else on your list with this faux-mink weighted blanket. It comes in six different designs that all weigh 12 pounds, which provides a light amount of pressure.
Looking for an affordable yet personal gift to give this year? This sterling silver necklace is one that is sure to make your giftee smile.
Ready to pack your bags for a trip in 2022? Take advantage of discounts on this bestselling suitcase from Samsonite ahead of Black Friday.
Get in on the puffer jacket trend with this affordable pick. It comes in nearly a dozen different colors that can suit any wardrobe, and you can find it in sizes S-XXL.
Nordstrom Black Friday deals 2021
Nordstrom kicked off its early Black Friday sale on Nov. 4, dropping big discounts on fashion, accessories and home essentials. And later in the month, the retailer will be adding even more deals to its lineup.
This chic peacoat deserves a spot in your winter wardrobe. Available in three neutral colors, it’s easy to pair with almost anything in your closet.
You can rock the chunky shoe trend with this pair of lug sole Chelsea boots. According to the brand, they run small so you should order in a half size up.
If you’re planning on getting a pair of these stretchy figure-sculpting leggings to gift to a friend, you may as well grab another for yourself while they’re 56% off. They feature a moisture-wicking fabric and a comfortable no-slip waistband.
JCPenney Black Friday deals 2021
You don’t want to miss JCPenney’s Black Friday deals! All month long, the company will be offering savings across home, beauty and fashion.
Upgrade your cookware with this deal from JCPenney. The set includes almost every nonstick pot and pan that a home cook could need, including a griddle pan and Dutch oven.
You can get up to 60% off mattresses during JCPenney’s early Black Friday sale. This option from Sealy combines the support of an innerspring mattress with the comfort of memory foam. It has a MoistureProtect cover, which will help you stay cool throughout the night.
On warmer days when you don’t want to bring out your bulky puffer, wear this lightweight overcoat instead. It comes in grey and tan and is currently marked down by 50%.
Lowe’s Black Friday deals 2021
Lowe’s was one of the first retailers to start offering holiday deals — its Season of Savings Event kicked off on Oct. 28. Right now, you can find discounts on seasonal decor, smart home appliances and more.
Thinking about making the switch to an artificial Christmas tree this year? This one comes pre-lit so decorating is easy.
This small speaker will make the perfect gift for friends and family members. Not only can they use it to play music, but they can also ask their Google Assistant to set reminders and alarms or check the news.
If you’re looking to make a major update to your home, you can find discounts on all kinds of large appliances right now at Lowe’s. For example, this heavy-duty washing machine is currently marked down by $150.
More Black Friday sales to shop
Why is the shopping holiday called Black Friday?
The Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season since the first modern Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924. The term “Black Friday,” however, did not arise until the 1960s when police officers in Philadelphia complained about the traffic and congestion caused by holiday shoppers.
Retailers, however, did not appreciate the negative connotation associated with the name “Black Friday,” so they changed the meaning of the name to reflect the financial successes of that day. Traditionally, accountants used red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts, so retailers used this habit to rebrand Black Friday. The new meaning behind the name is that Black Friday is the day when retailers finally begin to turn a profit for the year.
Black Friday 2021 tips
1. Do research beforehand
Before jumping headfirst into Black Friday, doing some research on which products you are interested in buying can go a long way. Waiting until Black Friday sales begin is a recipe for disaster, so craft a strategy ahead of time to ensure you do not miss out on a deal.
While Black Friday ads haven’t come out yet, you can start by identifying stores you want to shop at and products you want, deciding on your ideal price and the maximum you are willing to pay.
2. Compare and review prices
With so many deals, it can often be challenging to find the right store to buy the products you have in mind. ShopSavvy, Rakuten, Shopbrain and store-specific apps are great ways to compare prices between stores, get coupons and monitor how prices fluctuate leading up to Black Friday. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is not uncommon for retailers to increase prices leading up to Black Friday to make discounts look that much more impressive, so keep an eye out for changes.
Some stores also offer a price-match system, so do your research ahead of time and come prepared with Black Friday ads ready.
3. Go scouting on Wednesday
While a lot of shoppers might opt to stay home this Black Friday due to COVID-19 concerns, if you do plan to shop in stores, familiarize yourself with the layout ahead of time. The last thing you want to do is get lost in the Black Friday rush, so get to know the store, which aisles you want to target and find the fastest route to items you’re interested in.
4. Start shopping early
Every year Black Friday seems to start earlier and earlier with doorbuster deals beginning hours, sometimes days, before. To make sure you can buy all the products you have your eyes on, get a head start by shopping early — especially since there are expected shipping delays and supply issues this year.
“Shoppers who do all their purchasing before Black Friday are more likely to find items in stock, and they have the best chance of getting their purchases shipped in a timely fashion,” Michael Bonebright, consumer analyst at comparison shopping site DealNews.com, told Consumer Reports.
5. Act fast
When it comes to Black Friday, the early bird really does get the worm. Often, the best deals are only available for a limited time and in limited quantities, and if the discount is good, supplies won’t last long. If you see a good deal on a product you want, jump on it before it is too late!
6. Use a different browser
“A website can detect previous visits and browsing patterns from your cookies and couple those data points against internal records to determine how much it thinks you’re willing to pay,” Mike Catania, chief technology officer of coupon website PromotionCode.org, previously told TODAY.
So, when it comes time to buy on Black Friday, Catania recommends using Chrome and an incognito window to privately browse and avoid those price adjustments.
7. Read return policies
While Black Friday can come with big savings, it can also mean small fine print with details many tend to skim over. During Black Friday sales, refunds and returns, especially with coronavirus as we saw in 2020, is a special case. Before you make a purchase, take your time and check to see if it is returnable and refundable.
8. Sign up for email lists
One of the best ways to get early access to coupons, sales and promotions is to sign up for Black Friday shopping alerts. Consumer Reports also recommends signing up for store loyalty programs to get deals and rewards only available to members. Along the same lines, social media is a great way to find out about exclusive deals and promotions, so actively check Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates.
And check back with Shop TODAY for more information as Black Friday draws closer.
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This article was originally published on Sept. 30, 2021.