What to Buy (and Skip) on Black Friday 2021

Expect major bargains on laptops, but hold off on gear that will be even less expensive in a few months.
Laura McMullen
By Laura McMullen 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, making this year’s shopping holiday Nov. 26. But you can already find Black Friday deals out in the wild from several retailers where the discounts will be spread out over the next several weeks.

As you wade through promotions — and headlines about supply-chain issues and shortages — aim to shop strategically. Here are a few product categories worth buying this Black Friday, along with those that you may be better off skipping until they’re on sale in a few months.

Buy: Laptops

Black Friday typically means major sales on electronics, and this year is no exception. Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Costco and Target each announced sales this month on various types of laptops.

At Costco, expect deals on Dell, Lenovo, HP, LG, Samsung and MSI laptops, depending on when and how you shop. (Costco is staggering the promotions, and some are available online only.)

Skip: Bedding

Sure, you’ll likely find a few bedding bargains on Black Friday, but hold out until January if you can. That’s when many retailers discount bedroom and bathroom goods, such as sheets, pillows, towels and linens.

Toward the end of the year, keep an eye out for upcoming promotions on bedding and other furniture. You may find deals from Pottery Barn, Overstock, West Elm, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel and Wayfair.

Buy: TVs

As usual, you’ll find steep price drops on TVs on Black Friday and in the weeks leading up to it. For example, Walmart will offer a Samsung 60-inch 4K smart TV with HDR for $548 beginning on Nov. 10. Expect TV deals on several brands from Amazon, Costco, Best Buy and Target, too.

DataWeave, a retail data and pricing analytics firm, tracked the prices of more than 200 types of TVs sold by Amazon, Target and Walmart. Karthik Bettadapura, the firm’s CEO, says the prices of the TVs they tracked increased 7.4% this year between April and October.

So these Black Friday price cuts may not be as deep as they appear, given the baseline price of many TVs has likely ticked up. But there’s no denying that retailers offer some of their biggest discounts on TVs during Black Friday, so if you’re in the market, you may want to take advantage of them anyway.

Skip: Winter clothing

Retailers can typically charge more for items that are in-season (and in-demand) and less for products that aren't. Winter wear such as coats and jackets is about as in-season as it gets right now, so you probably won’t find the year’s biggest discounts.

If you’re able to wait a few months, look for cold-weather gear on the clearance rack as we head into spring. At that point, retailers will likely be eager to sell their off-season inventory at a discount.

If you can’t hold off until 2022, you’re still likely to find plenty of deals on coats and other cozy gear this month at Macy’s, Amazon, Kohl’s and other stores.

Black Friday shopping tips

Buy holiday must-haves soon. Between supply-chain disruptions and potential shortages, it may take longer than usual for products to get to you. You may find that what you want is out of stock, for example, or that delivery times are extended.

So if you need a certain something by the December holidays and it’s available, scoop it up. "There’s no strong reason to wait," says Eric Anderson, chair in retailing and professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois.

Plus, Black Friday deals are already being promoted at many retailers, so there's no need to wait to find bargains.

Avoid scams. In all the excitement of landing Black Friday deals, show caution, too. When you see ads in your social media feeds, do a little digging before giving your information.

If you see the perfect sweater advertised on Instagram, for example, check out the seller’s website. Be wary of sites that don’t look trustworthy and those that don’t show products other than the one advertised to you. And if you’re unable to find a physical address for the retailer online, or if the site accepts payment only via gift cards or peer-to-peer payment companies like Venmo or Cash App, you may be looking at a scammer.

While this year’s Black Friday may come with shortages and even scams, you’ll likely be in the clear with vigilant and early shopping.

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