Black Friday isn’t until Nov. 25, but with each day that passes, we’re getting a clearer picture of what the shopping bonanza — or, to some, mayhem — will look like. Here’s what to expect from Black Friday 2016 based on the opinions of experts and the ads that have leaked so far.
Pass a plate of savings on electronics
For Black Friday 2016, retailers will go back to deals that have worked in the past, says Puneet Manchanda, a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan. That means their bread and butter: electronics.
The front page of Dell’s Black Friday ad is plastered with online doorbusters, including an Xbox One S 500GB Battlefield 1 Bundle for $249.99 and an Inspiron 11 3000 laptop for $99.99. Also, online, Amazon recently launched its Countdown to Black Friday Deals. The site has been featuring new deals as often as every five minutes in the month leading up to Black Friday, including discounts on televisions. A one-day-only deal from the online marketplace on Nov. 1 featured a 55-inch LG Electronics Smart OLED TV for $999.99.
Eat up online Thanksgiving doorbusters
Black Friday doorbusters were once the prize for braving the cold, fighting the crowds and staking a spot in line — but things have gotten much easier. This year, you won’t necessarily have to leave home to get a doorbuster.
Many big-box stores plan to post online deals on Thanksgiving Day, and shoppers are ready for them. Some 35% of Americans say they would shop online at the Thanksgiving table to ensure they get a good deal, according to a holiday survey by PayPal.
Online deals at both Sam’s Club and Office Depot will start at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time on Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 24. Kohl’s will make some of its deals available online beginning Monday, Nov. 21.
“One really big thing this year is we’re seeing more free shipping than ever online,” says Charles R. Taylor, a marketing professor at Villanova School of Business. “I think a big part of the reason for this is Amazon has Prime, and to compete with Amazon, the retailers really feel like they have to offer free shipping during this season.”
Both Best Buy and Target are offering free shipping during the holidays with no minimum purchase amount.
Be ready for a beefed-up Black Friday
Despite online Thanksgiving Day deals from some, major retailers like Sam’s Club, Staples, Costco, Cabela’s and Office Depot are staying closed on Thanksgiving, possibly returning some of Black Friday’s in-store luster to its Friday time slot. In fact, Black Friday itself is expected be the busiest shopping day of the 2016 holiday season, according to a predictive report by analytic company ShopperTrak.
“Some of the retailers are beginning to back off on Thursday,” says Deborah Fowler, professor of retail management at Texas Tech University. “I think a lot of it is backlash from consumers, and I’m sure it’s from employees, too. But I think some of them are reconsidering it because their sales probably did not justify the extra time they had their employees in the stores.”
But not everyone is opting out. J.C. Penney is opening at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Macy’s at 5 p.m. and Kohl’s at 6 p.m.
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Devour deals beyond Nov. 25
Thanksgiving and Black Friday aren’t the only days for holiday sales. Some stores already started pre-Black Friday sales on Nov. 1. “We don’t have a focal point of Black Friday anymore,” Manchanda says. “Now it’s essentially from the beginning of November all the way to Cyber Monday.”
Many retailers will follow up Black Friday with Cyber Monday sales on Nov. 28, and some promotions extend into December. Sales in Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Store run all the way through Dec. 22.
Taylor says retailers would be well advised to continue their promotions even after Black Friday. “The hope is always that you’re attracting people with the great deals, but then they buy some other things at a more regular price at the same time,” he says.
Take everything with a grain of salt
There will be legitimate bargains on Black Friday, and the day is an annual tradition for many shoppers, but don’t lose sight of the purpose of these events: for retailers to promote holiday spending.
It’s easy to get swept up in the frenzy and leave with more than you bargained for. Fowler recommends asking yourself, “Would I have bought that otherwise?”
“If the answer is no,” she says, “you’re a great retail customer, but not really a savvy shopper.”
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.