Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, has become synonymous with sales and good deals. But occasionally the day is associated with fights, long lines and fights over who took what first. But is it worth spending the time and effort it takes to shop on Black Friday? And whether you’re shopping in person or online, how do you know you’re really getting the best deal possible?
Matilda Littler, a 27-year-old who uses her Instagram account, A Millennial Saver, to give followers financial advice and tips on how to save money, says planning ahead is the best way to know if Black Friday is coming. deals are worth you.
“I always do most (if not all) of my Christmas shopping during the Black Friday weekend,” Littler tells Yahoo Life, “as I find that many stores are joining in with discount codes.”
“Before Black Friday, I ask my family and friends what they want for Christmas, so I buy something I know they want and don’t waste money,” she continues. “Then I create a folder in my internet browser with links to what they want and on Black Friday I’ll hunt for that item to find the best deal.”
But Rachel Barry, a 36-year-old mother of two who blogs at Pretty in Baby Food, says she no longer sees Black Friday shopping as a must-do.
“Before I had kids over seven years ago, I went shopping every year on Black Friday,” says Barry. “It was a bit like the thrill of the hunt for deals. After a while, I discovered that most of the items that were on sale during Black Friday were also on sale for almost the same price at other times of the year.”
Greg Wilson is a chartered financial analyst and owner of ChaChingQueen.com. “Last year, an estimated $40 billion was spent on Black Friday,” he says. “On average, Americans saved 24% during Black Friday sales, despite retailers trying to expand and smooth out the spending event throughout the year with events such as Amazon Prime Days, Amazon Early Access, Target Deal Days, and Walmart Rollback Deals .”
While everyone may disagree on the value of shopping on Black Friday, one thing experts agree on is that it’s a good idea to shop around for the best price before making a purchase.
“If you’re looking for a single item, type the item name into Google and go to the ‘shopping’ section in the search bar to see the site with the best price,” says Littler.
She does warn consumers to pay close attention to prices while shopping. “I’ve noticed that Amazon can raise their prices leading up to Black Friday and then lower them back to regular prices for the weekend,” Littler explains. “CamelCamelCamel is a free Amazon price tracker, so you can check the price of an item over a period of time and make sure you’re getting a real bargain.”
So if Black Friday is no longer a must-do, how can consumers shop smart all year long?
Trae Bodge, a lifestyle journalist and television commentator who has specialized in smart shopping for over a decade, says deal websites are your friend.
“It only takes a minute to search for a coupon or cash back offer, especially if you’re browsing online,” she shares.
Bodge and Littler both say that the Honey browser extension is one of their favorite tools to use. Littler says Honey looks for coupon codes when she’s ready to checkout, and this has saved her a lot of money over the years.
“Look at historical prices to see if you should buy now or wait,” adds Bodge. An easy way to do this is to use [Honey].”
“Once it’s installed on your phone or laptop, a pop-up appears while browsing with price history information, which is so helpful,” she continues. If you decide to wait, you can also add the item to [a list] that lets you know if the item goes on sale.”
Barry also recommends reward apps. “If you’re okay with sharing your purchase history, use apps like Ibotta or Fetch Rewards,” she says. “Find stores that offer benefits for being a loyal customer.”
“For example, many Shop Rites offer a free holiday turkey or ham if you buy a certain amount during a certain amount of time,” continues Barry. “Make your credit card work for you. Take advantage of it and shop when you can maximize your credit card rewards.”
Whether or not Black Friday shopping is worth it is ultimately a personal decision. Just because an item looks like a good deal doesn’t mean it actually is. Take stock of needs and wants prior to big sales to ensure that the good deals on offer actually relate to items that are actually on your holiday shopping list – it’s easy to get distracted by discounts on items that you really don’t need.
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