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13 Black Friday Deals That Just Aren’t As Good As They Seem

Don't be fooled by the hype. Retail trends tracker Julie Loffredi helps us sort out what's worth buying on Black Friday—and what isn't.

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Which deals are worth it?

Shopping in November can be exhausting. And the day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) is probably the most overwhelming for shoppers. Leading up to the big day, retailers bombard consumers with advertisements and promotional e-mails, teasing upcoming deals and doorbusters. The sales sound really good—and some of them definitely are, like these 25 Amazon Black Friday deals that are sure to sell out. But not everything’s worth the hype. How can you figure out what’s a truly great deal and what’s not? We’re so glad you asked! Retail trends tracker Julie Loffredi from Brad’s Deals helped us sort through the really convincing marketing jargon to suss out the great deals from the so-so ones. Here are the items to skip on the biggest shopping day of the year—and which bargains you can’t miss.

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Gadgets

Assorted electronic gadgets might be worth buying on Black Friday, but you have to a little research first. Amazon has already given consumers the heads-up that many popular devices will be discounted for Black Friday leading into Cyber Monday. Discounts will likely include Echo and Fire products. And there will be promotions. For example, if you buy a smart home device on Amazon, shoppers can score a free third-generation Amazon Echo Dot. However, many on-sale gadgets at big-box stores will be on older models. That’s because retailers are looking to unload them before stocking up on the next version (These companies have the greatest Black Friday deals.)

Bottom line: If you’re OK with getting an older model and one that you’ve had your eye on forever is now 50 percent off or more, go for it. If not, you should probably wait. While you’re shopping at everyone’s favorite online retailer, check out these 61 Amazon products you’ll use every day.

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Fitness gear and equipment

Congrats on being ahead of the New Year’s resolution curve, but wait until January to upgrade your elliptical. The post-holiday season is the most competitive time for the fitness industry to snag your business with big markdowns. You’ll find the year’s deepest discounts on exercise equipment in January, with fitness-gear sales ranging from 40 to 90 percent off.

Bottom line: On Black Friday, fitness fanatics should have their eyes on discounted fitness trackers instead, like the Fitbit Versa 2 at Target. And don’t miss these other Target Black Friday deals that are too good to miss.

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Winter accessories

Hats. Gloves. Scarves. Cold-weather accessories are ideal stocking stuffers, as well as easy go-to gifts for coworkers and teachers. But should you buy them on Black Friday? Maybe. Expect department stores like Kohl’s and Macy’s to offer steep discounts on some winter accessories as a way to entice you into the store to buy even more. Gap.com and OldNavy.com will also have accessories on sale, including gloves and hats for kids.

Bottom line: If you can hold off until February, you can likely score even bigger discounts. That said, if you find a deal that’s more than 50 percent off now, plunk down that credit card. These modern methods will help you find great Black Friday deals. 

Julie’s tip: Check promotional e-mails from your favorite retailers and wait for the ones that offer 50 percent off on items already on sale. When a sale like this at Gap goes live, I buy my kids’ winter coats without hesitation because I know it’s the cheapest price I’ll get (usually 70 percent off). But I have to be ready to buy because preferred sizes will run out fast. This sale doesn’t always run on Black Friday. It could be a few days before or after.

Looking for a great but inexpensive gift? Try these 100 stocking stuffers under $10 for everyone on your list.

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Furniture

Your mailbox has probably been packed lately with flyers teasing Black Friday deals at your local furniture store, but you may want to pass on those. Sure, you may find a steal on a leftover recliner, but indoor furniture tends to be cheapest during the summer months as well as in January. Meanwhile, patio furniture will be at its cheapest toward the end of summer.

Bottom line: When it comes to furniture, wait till after Christmas for the best savings. By the way, here’s how to spot a poor-quality piece of furniture—before you buy it.

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Clothing

Generally, November is not the best time to score major discounts on clothing. January, August, and September tend to be better months of the year due to merchants trying to unload merchandise before the new goods come in.

Bottom line: If clothing isn’t at least 40 percent off, pass on it. There is one exception, however. If you’re looking to score a cheap cashmere sweater, now is the time. Plenty of department stores like Kohl’s and Macy’s will offer steep discounts on cozy sweaters on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you love shopping at Macy’s, make sure you know these 10 secret ways you can save money at Macy’s.

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TVs

Yes, TVs are generally at their lowest prices of year around Black Friday. But prices drop again around the Super Bowl, as retailers begin trying to clear out the previous year’s models to make room for newer inventory.

That said, it’s fairly standard for retailers to advertise super-low-priced Black Friday doorbuster deals on TVs to get folks in the door. But those sets might not be worth the price, according to Consumer Reports. “You’ll probably be watching your new TV for a number of years,” writes Jim Wilcox. “If you’re not happy with its features or picture quality, you could regret not spending an extra 50 bucks to get something better.”

Bottom line: Unless the model being offered is exactly what you want at an amazing price, you might want to wait a few months. You’ll still be able to find a good deal—maybe even one on a new set. (And be sure to get the newest 4K model.) Before you shop on the big day, brush up on these 13 new ways to find the best Black Friday 2019 deals.

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Toys

While rollbacks and other discounts seem attractive, don’t expect major deals on the hottest toys of the season. “I would only expect the savings to amount to a few dollars. And there’s a very real risk of them selling out,” says Casey Runyan, managing editor for Brad’s Deals. “Boppi the Llama is already back-ordered at a number of places and selling above the list price on Amazon and eBay.” Here are another 15 of the year’s hottest Christmas toys to buy before they sell out.

Also watch out for “special edition” toys, which are often sold marked up from the standard edition but offer little in the way of additional value.

Bottom line: Traditional toy manufacturers like LEGO and Barbie will discount some of their products specifically for Black Friday. But better deals are coming in December.

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Housewares

Don’t be fooled by the magic of marketing. “Retailers will have an exclusive color on something like a kitchen appliance (or pots and pans) and use that to justify a higher price,” says Runyan. “They can say it is a bargain because there’s nothing to compare it to.” Other tricks that retailers pull out for Black Friday? Offering “limited editions” or bonus items that aren’t actually as valuable as the retailer may claim.

Bottom line: Comparison-shop before buying; you may find a better deal elsewhere. Also beware of marketing tactics that lead consumers to believe an item is an awesome deal when it’s actually not. Oh, and if you want a big-ticket item like a refrigerator, prices drop in May. Before you buy, though, make sure you know the 8 most reliable (and the 8 least reliable) home appliance brands.

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Cameras

Digital cameras (aka DSLR) will be on sale on Black Friday. But don’t expect one-day discounts from top-of-the-line Canon and Nikon products. Instead, sales will most likely be on entry-level and older models that may be missing extra features. And if you get a great deal on just the camera mount (that’s the base), remember: You still need to buy a compatible lens and memory card if it’s not already included, so the price can continue to go up even after you get that bargain.

Bottom line: If you miss a deal on Black Friday for a “cheap” camera, chances are there’s another deal right around the corner. So, don’t get too bummed out. Deals come and go throughout the year. Check B&H Photo and Best Buy regularly for discounts. (And don’t forget to implement these savvy new techniques to save big when you shop online.) Meanwhile, professional photographers tend to wait till CES, an annual trade show held in January by the Consumer Technology Association, to score the latest camera equipment at the best price.

 

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Apple products

Don’t have your heart set on a discounted Apple product this Black Friday. If you want a MacBook, you’ll have to pay up. According to our insiders at Brad’s Deals, Apple probably won’t lower its prices on the latest Mac products. What you may see instead is a gift-card promotion. For example: Buy an iPad and get a $50 gift card for use on future Apple products.

Bottom line: Check legit third-party retailers like Walmart, Target, Amazon, and B&H Photo for potential deals on Apple products. If you shop at Kohl’s, use Kohl’s Cash to help save a few bucks. And if you really want a discounted Apple product, refurbished units are always available, at any time of the year. By the way, you’re wasting your money if you’re buying these 14 things in brand-new condition.

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Beauty

Are big beauty sales happening this Black Friday? Sort of. If you aren’t picky, you can score discounted beauty products under $15 from Sephora. (Plus, beauty lovers can get a sneak peek at even more deals by downloading Sephora’s app.) And Bath & Body Works will be running a 40-percent-off sale storewide again with a free tote promotion for purchases over $40, while CoverGirl will offer up to 30 percent off on makeup with a few Amazon lightning deals. But all that said, sales will continue throughout the season.

Bottom line: Any beauty product in holiday packaging will be heavily discounted after the holidays. So, you may want to hold off and buy later. Of course, if you’re buying a present, you can’t wait and should check out those sales as well as these beauty gifts she’ll adore.

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Tools

When it comes to tools and appliances, Black Friday isn’t the only day for deals. Home Depot and Lowe’s will be running deals throughout the holiday season. Plumbers will likely hit the stores before Thanksgiving too, due to Brown Friday: a plumber’s busiest day of the year.

Bottom line: If you want tools, you’ve got time. Just make sure to shop within the next few weeks. To save more money on Black Friday and all year long, check out these money-saving secrets Home Depot employees want you to know.

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Bedding

You may come across a bed-in-the-bag set heavily discounted at your local department store. But Black Friday isn’t generally the best time to buy bedding.

Bottom line: White sales happen in January. That’s when you’ll find great deals on sheets, comforters, and other bedding. But here’s what you need to know before you buy those new bedsheets.