Buy This, Not That on Black Friday

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BLACK FRIDAY GUIDEBOOK

With shopping holiday deals and spending shifting earlier in the season, as ComScore notes, there are some items worth buying on Black Friday itself and others worth waiting for. We did a little shopping and parsed out the winners.

Fitbit Versa
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

BUY IT: SMARTWATCHES

Target, Best Buy, and Kohl's love pushing smartwatches around this time of year. The newest Fitbit smartwatches — Ionic and Versa — have been around a while, but could drop from their $200-plus prices to between $160 and $190 for Black Friday (not including bundled gift cards and store credit). The LG Watch Style went for $100 last year and could go for $80 in 2018, but the more traditional-looking Fossil will also dip below $100.

woman looking in mirror, at her earrings
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FORGET IT: JEWELRY

Any piece of jewelry marked down during a Black Friday sale, just before engagement season, was either marked up extravagantly from the start or contains an undesirable stone. Most jewelry deals don't fall on Black Friday itself, but throughout the month of December, which sees more deals than either January or February.

lego blocks
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BUY IT: LEGO

On "Brick Friday," Lego takes up to half off and provides a perk with some orders: Last year, Lego offered a free nutcracker with orders of at least $99, while the Lego Holiday Ornament with gold bricks returned for $6, DealNews reports. This year, Barnes & Noble could knock 30 to 50 percent off certain sets for the holidays, while Target (20 to 25 percent off) and Amazon (up to 30 percent) also offer steep discounts.

smiling girl at toy store showing toy to woman
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FORGET IT: TOYS

If a toy is a must-have, snag it immediately before it sells out. If you think a toy will last, NerdWallet says it's best to wait until closer to Christmas to buy dolls, action figures, and playsets. In past years, certain toys have been on sale for as much as half off in the final days before Christmas.

woman online shopping with tablet
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BUY IT: ONLINE DOORBUSTERS

If a store is closed on Thanksgiving Day or there isn't a store at all, stay in your warm home and charge the doors online. Dell and Office Depot were among stores with online doorbuster options last year, which made them great options for people who wanted to skip the line.

final sale signs at store
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FORGET IT: FINAL SALE ITEMS

Oh, you're going to be tempted to clean out that Sears or Lowe's that's going out of business, but don't do it. You're likely closing the door on returns and saddling a gift recipient with something they may or may not want.

people entering desert hills premium outlets
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BUY IT: DESIGNER BRANDS

If you live near an outlet mall, picking up very specific accessories can be worth your while. For example, expect Nordstrom Rack to take up to 75 percent off handbags and for Kate Spade, Burberry, Barneys Warehouse, Saks Off 5th, and Coach outlets to take 30 to 75 percent off.

boot rack
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FORGET IT: SHOES

You don't buy shoes by the holiday: You buy them by the season. The holiday season is a largely lousy time to buy shoes, with limited sales falling on Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. It's a really bad time to buy a great set of boots — that's what the after-holiday sales and winter clearances are for.

Red KitchenAid mixer on a counter in a kitchen
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BUY IT: SMALL KITCHEN APPLIANCES

Just about every retailer wants to get rid of appliances that fit under the tree. Smaller appliances such as coffee makers, mixers, blenders, and vacuum cleaners often get deep Black Friday cuts from department stores such as Kohl's and Macy's.

Large appliances on white background
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FORGET IT: BIG APPLIANCES

The appliance industry is known for its "three-day weekend sales" on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Presidents' Day. New Year's Day sometimes falls into that group, but with sales clustered around those holidays, you get a broader choice of deals than whatever model is on sale for Black Friday.

Photo credit: iStock

BUY IT: 'DERIVATIVE' TVS

TV manufacturers will often create models specifically for Black Friday that have fewer HDMI inputs or simpler remotes. Depending on the manufacturer, it may be worth your time. Consumer Reports' James Wilcox says a 55-inch Samsung derivative the group tested last year around this time was about $170 cheaper than the TV it was based on and performed equally well in the group's tests.

TVs in an electronics store
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FORGET IT: 1080p TVs

The price of 4K TVs is almost on par with its older siblings, but Samsung just went and launched an 8K screen. Technology is only advancing, and the lure of a $300 55-inch TV really isn't great enough to warrant a step back when the next generation is roughly $79 more without a Black Friday discount.

Photo credit: Skullcandy

BUY IT: COMPUTER ACCESSORIES

External storage, memory cards, cables, keyboards, headphones, and the like all tend to get marked down on Cyber Monday, The National Retail Federation's BlackFriday.com notes. But Best Buy tends to discount those items (such as 200-gigabyte MicroSD cards) on Black Friday as well, and they're far less popular than the big-ticket items at the busiest portions of the day, Slickdeals says.

close-up of hands typing on laptop
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FORGET IT: HIGH-END LAPTOPS

There will be deals on low-end laptops and smaller models. In fact, Chromebooks will sell for less than $100, while Intel Core i5 laptops go for $300 to $500. But if you need a brawnier machine for games or design, you already know that this isn't the time of year to buy them. Instead, shop in July and September, when they'll have their prices cut as part of back to school sales.

remote control and tv
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BUY IT: STREAMING SERVICE

You'll see discounts on streaming players themselves around this time of year, but occasionally a streaming service such as Hulu will cut subscriptions by $2 a month on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Video game service Jump On Demand offered a discount last year as well, but keep an eye on streaming subscription prices overall while doing Black Friday shopping.

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FORGET IT: ONLINE SUBSCRIPTIONS

Services such as Audible, Udemy, Lynda, and Rosetta Stone all tend to offer discounts around Cyber Monday, as BlackFriday.com points out. Considering you can give them to someone for an entire year, discounted audiobooks and translations seem like just the right gift for that person who really misses getting magazines — but you may have to wait until Monday to snag a deal.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Unlocked Smartphone
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BUY IT: OLDER SMARTPHONE MODELS

With the Google Pixel 3 out, older models should be ripe for a discount. But even the Samsung Galaxy S9, just released this year, stands to get as much as $150 taken off its price.

iPhone X
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FORGET IT: IPHONES

No, the iPhone XS won't get a significant discount. It just launched and Apple is in no rush to let it go cheaply. Even when big box retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart cut deals on an iPhone, it's only to throw in a gift card or two and not to actually knock anything off the price of the phone.

Nintendo Switch
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BUY IT: OLD VIDEO GAME CONSOLES

Last year, Kohl's and Target had the Xbox One S on sale for $190 (marked down from $280), as well as the PlayStation 4 on sale for $200 (marked down from $300). This year, a Sony PlayStation 4 Slim console could drop to $200, while the Nintendo Switch could hit $240.

Xbox One X
Photo credit: Courtesy of bestbuy.com

FORGET IT: USED VIDEO GAME CONSOLES

Don't. The Xbox One X, PlayStation Pro, and Switch have been out for more than a year. Older versions of the One and PS4 will be bundled with games and available on the cheap. There is absolutely no need to buy used or refurbished at this time of year.

Xbox One S Sports Bundle
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BUY IT: VIDEO GAME CONSOLE BUNDLES

When retailers can't drop the price of a console further, they'll just bundle discounted accessories and games with it. An Xbox One S with a game will go for about $180 this year, Nintendo Switch bundles, meanwhile, look as if they'll start around $330.

Oculus Rift + Touch Virtual Reality System
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FORGET IT: NEW VIDEO GAME CONSOLES

An Xbox One X bundle still goes for a steep $499. Virtual reality systems aren't exactly "new" at this point, but the $320 Oculus Rift and $499 HTC Vive VR are still priced around the same range as newest-generation consoles.

Photo credit: GearBrain

BUY IT: NON-IPHONE APPLE PRODUCTS

Black Friday is where old Apple products go to die. Though Apple's cheaper New iPad 2018 may drop from $329 to $299 at Walmart, Best Buy, or Target, last year's iPad Pro could get even more significant discounts. But a $179 Apple Watch Series 1 and a $275 iPad Mini 4 are more likely.

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FORGET IT: FURNITURE

Black Friday Arrives at just the wrong time for furniture deals. Furniture companies release products in February, which brings clearance sales in January. That month sees the best furniture prices of the year, so it doesn't pay to get stuck with a limited Black Friday selection.

Photo credit: GearBrain

BUY IT: ROBOT VACUUMS

With prices as high as $900, robot vacuums are a splurge. But mid-range models such as the Roomba 600-series and Neato Botvac D3 vacuums will see prices cut nearly in half to $200 to $300. New models such as the Roomba i7 won't get a discount, but the Roomba 900-series could go as low as $500 (about 30 percent off).

bedding in home store showroom
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FORGET IT: BEDDING

Nobody who's ever shopped for bedding regularly would expect the best deal on Black Friday. The January "white sales" drop prices by as much as 70 percent, which makes it worth holding off and hitting Overstock, Pottery Barn, and Macy's after the holidays.

Photo credit: Belkin

BUY IT: SMART LIGHTS

If you plan on talking to your home through a central pod and rarely touching light switches again, you'll need plugs, switches, and bulbs that play along. All of the above can be found for $30 apiece — including Belkin Wemo and Philips Hue products — or in sets starting at $60.

Hammer Tone Bronze Finish Cocktail Table Fire Pit
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FORGET IT: OUTDOOR ITEMS

If you're buying someone a fire pit or lawn furniture as a gift, don't expect to get a Black Friday discount for your trouble. Most stores clear them out during Labor Day and fall sales, while Lowe's hosts a "Spring Black Friday" each year just for outdoor products.

Photo credit: Ecobee

BUY IT: SMART THERMOSTATS

It's a great time for smart products in general, but smart thermostats can be had for as little as $70 on Black Friday. High-end versions from companies such as Ecobee and Nest get knocked down from $250 to $170 or less on Black Friday.

Rifle Paper Co. 2019 Appointment Calendar
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FORGET IT: CALENDARS

You're right: A calendar does make an excellent stocking stuffer for the tech-averse. But if you're selling calendars in the digital world and still have inventory by Jan. 1, you're going to start making deals by Jan. 2.

Fitbit Flex 2
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BUY IT: FITNESS TRACKERS

Those New Year's resolutions are looming, but smart watches and other advancements are putting the squeeze on fitness trackers. The cheapest versions are available for as little as $5, but the discontinued Fitbit Blaze ($75 to $100) and current Garmin trackers (as little as $30) could see deep discounts. The best deals of all may be reserved for Fitbits such as the Flex 2, which could drop to $40 at Micro Center and other stores.

Sole F63 Treadmill
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FORGET IT: FITNESS EQUIPMENT

A few deals might show up, but folks who sell fitness equipment keep roughly the same schedule as gyms. When the New Year hits and all the resolutions are made, that's when it's time to make deals.

google pixel 2
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BUY IT: ANDROID DEVICES

Last year, TechRadar found huge deals on Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S8 phones. This year, the steepest savings will come on Black Friday itself, as opposed to Thanksgiving or Cyber Monday.

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FORGET IT: OFF-BRAND MODELS

The TV or laptop made by that company you never heard of may not be the most dependable item for your money. Check with a reputable source (PCMag, CNET, Consumer Reports) before buying, and don't let a low price woo you into a bad deal.

GoPro Hero6
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BUY IT: DIGITAL CAMERAS

Cameras will be on sale from Canon and Nikon, but the most popular camera deals will come from GoPro, TechRadar predicts. While the new GoPro Hero 7 Black won't get a steep discount, the older GoPro Hero 6 Black and GoPro Hero 5 Black will see significant price drops. Look for bundles with $50 to $75 gift cards and keep an eye out for $25 bags.

Drill
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FORGET IT: TOOLS

You might be able to find a great deal on hand tools or tool sets here or there on Black Friday, but those sales are just primers. From October through December, hammers, wrenches, and other hand tools can all be found on sale as stores clear the year's inventory. If you want specialty tools such as indoor woodworking tools, however, those sales don't happen until February or March, Popular Mechanics says.

Photo credit: Amazon

BUY IT: AMAZON PRODUCTS

Amazon's biggest discounts come at the expense of its own products such as the Kindle, Fire tablets, and Echo speakers. It's all to get you into the system to pay more. Once you get one — a $30 Echo Dot, a Kindle Paperwhite at a $40 discount, a Fire HD tablet for $80 off — you're more likely to join its Prime service, buy its ebooks, stream its movies, install its smart home devices, and basically owe your soul to the company store.

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FORGET IT: AIRFARE AND VACATION PACKAGES

Don't get us wrong, there are some hotel, airfare, and cruise deals kicking around on Black Friday. But if you want to take advantage of the winter travel "dark weeks" in mid-January and early February, DealNews says you really should start looking in mid-November. If that $360 Mexican cruise, $200 flight to Europe, or $30 room on the Vegas strip doesn't pan out, wait until January when the holidays are over, spring break is still a long way off, and airlines and travel sites will want to fill seats and tours in the new year.

DVD in a DVD player
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BUY IT: DVDs AND BLU-RAYS

Yes, both are still being sold and, yes, you can actually get $2 DVDs and $4 Blu-ray discs on Black Friday. Considering how much debt it takes to keep certain streaming services afloat, maybe having a backup plan isn't such a bad idea.

Wall display of gift cards in a grocery store
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FORGET IT: GIFT CARDS

Don't pay full price for a gift card. Black Friday may have a few gift card deals, but retailers won't offer much of a discount when they're already dropping prices. Retailers chop the price of gift cards dramatically in December with the knowledge there's very little time left to shop with them. Some stores even throw them in with a minimum purchase.

Call of Duty Combo Pack
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

BUY IT: VIDEO GAMES

You won't always get the newest titles at the best cost, but SlickDeals says to expect Best Buy to knock $20 off the price of "Call of Duty: WWII." Meanwhile, various PlayStation and Xbox games tend to get the $15 treatment at Walmart and Target on Black Friday.

FORGET IT: MAIL-IN REBATES

What's the point of braving Black Friday if you're just going to pay full price, albeit temporarily? Some kitchen appliances, electronics, and other popular items may require a mail-in rebate to get the advertised price, which means Macy's customers shelled out $10 to $12 last year for "free" rebate items.

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BUY IT: SMART SPEAKERS

Amazon and Google's Alexa vs. Google Home rivalry kept heating up this year.The Amazon Echo got a price cut during Prime Day 2018, while Google debuted its Google Home Max. DealNews expects the smallest versions of each to go for around $30, with the regular Echo and Home selling for around $70.

woman in winter clothes looking at store display
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FORGET IT: WINTER CLOTHES

The big sales on jeans come in October after the back-to-school sales end, while jackets, sweaters, boots, and other winter items don't get really deep discounts until January or February. Outerwear may sell for a 50 percent discount before the holidays, but it'll get an even steeper cut after New Year's Day.

Photo credit: pixelfit

BUY IT: SMARTPHONE PLAN

Mobile carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon know that people are shopping for smartphones around this time of year and like to offer their best possible deals. TechRadar notes that most carriers will offer incentives to sign contracts before the end of the year, so it isn't a bad time to get someone a new plan.

colorful Christmas decorations in a boxes
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FORGET IT: HOLIDAY DECORATIONS

For really obvious reasons, Dec. 26 and onward is when you'll get the best deal on Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, tinsel, and other seasonal baubles. Black Friday will offer "deals" on trees and wrapping paper, but it's a buyer's market after the holidays.

BUY IT: ROKU DEVICE

Like the Amazon, Apple, and Google equivalents, the device itself is just the gateway to more pay services. Roku players offer thousands of streaming channels, and Black Friday sales will knock the price of the entry-level model — the 1080p Roku Express — to a scant $20. A 4K model such as the Premiere and Premiere+ (a Walmart exclusive) will go for $40 and $50, respectively.

FORGET IT: BEAUTY SUPPLIES

Snagging a sweet beauty box is task best accomplished online, which means many of the best deals await on Cyber Monday. Either put your order in then, or go for the stocking stuffers instead.

Apple 9.7-inch iPad
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BUY IT: TABLETS

If Amazon is knocking down the price of Kindle Fire tablets and Apple is doing the same for iPads, it's a safe bet that Android and other tablets are going to get the same treatment.

1-800-Flowers
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FORGET IT: CHOCOLATES AND FLOWERS

Yes, this is a Black Friday category and, yes, companies such as 1-800-Flowers will offer deals for the occasion. That said, there's really no reason to seek deals on perishables this early in the holiday season.

Red Beats headphones
Photo credit: Courtesy of apple.com

BUY IT: HEADPHONES

This is the one time Apple reliably drops prices on Beats headphones, but other noise-canceling and wireless headphones get deals around this time as well. This is why DealNews suggests looking for discounts on not only Audeze and Sennheiser headphones ($275 or less) and budget headphones (as little as $10), but Apple AirPods as well ($130).

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