BLACK FRIDAY BUYS
Black Friday ads and promotions are designed to create urgency among holiday shoppers. The annual sales event does bring some of the "lowest prices of the year" on many popular gifts — but not as many as you might think. Some seasonal goodies and other items will see bigger price cuts down the line. Use this guide to zero in on the products worth an early start on Black Friday and those you can pass on by.
BUY: 4K TV
TV sales helped make Black Friday such a huge event in the first place. This year, ultra-HD 4K TVs are seeing unprecedented price drops. Many of the best deals are expected on off-brand TVs, but discounts on popular name brands are popping up as well. For instance, a Samsung 65-inch 4K ultra-high-definition smart TV will be available for $600 at Best Buy. That's $200 off the current price.
DON'T BUY: TOYS
This one is tricky. Black Friday sales inevitably include toys, but the price reductions generally aren't the biggest of the year. For toys, there's a sweet spot smack in the middle of December when prices generally undercut those on Thanksgiving weekend. Remember, though, that the hottest toys may sell out in the interim.
BUY: ONLINE DOORBUSTERS
If a store is closed on Thanksgiving Day or the line is sure to be miles long line, browse online. Some stores that close on Thanksgiving are releasing online doorbusters (hello, Office Depot), while other retailers are offering many of the same deals available in stores for those who prefer to shop from the comfort of home that day.
DON'T BUY: GIFT CARDS
Forget about shopping for gift cards during Black Friday. Major savings are rare at this time. Look for stores offering gift cards free to sweeten Black Friday sales — for instance, Best Buy is undercutting competitors by including a $30 gift card and a 128GB memory card when you buy a GoPro Hero7. But more gift card deals from retailers and restaurants typically pop up in December to woo last-minute shoppers. And after Christmas, sites such as Gift Card Granny are flooded with unwanted gift cards selling at a discount.
BUY: DESIGNER BRANDS
Prices rarely drop on designer brands, which is part of what makes them elite. Consumers who live near an outlet mall, however, may be in luck. Deals on designer brands will be on offer the day after Thanksgiving. For apparel and accessories that rarely go on sale, the discounted duds will be hard to pass up.
DON'T BUY: WINTER APPAREL
Buying clothing at the height of the season is never a good deal, and that includes sweaters, jackets, boots, and winter accessories on Black Friday. The challenge here is to ignore the hype and avoid falling into the trap of thinking that every Black Friday deal must be claimed. Wait for prices to drop to rock bottom in January and February.
BUY: GAMING-CONSOLE BUNDLES
As with most any technology product, there's a constant influx of updated video-game consoles entering the market. As a result, older models will be heavily discounted on Black Friday. At Best Buy, shoppers can grab a Sony PlayStation Slim 1TB for $200, which is $100 off the regular price and comes bundled with one controller and a Marvel Spider-Man game.
DON'T BUY: CALENDARS AND DATED COLLECTIBLES
Black Friday may see some deals in this category, but not the best. Again, retailers count on consumers getting caught up in shopping mania and snagging one of those "Baby's First Christmas" collectibles. But the real bargains on these items surface later in December or even in January. The same goes for calendars, which make good stocking stuffers but will be at their lowest prices right at year's end or just after Jan. 1.
DON'T BUY: FURNITURE
Historically, furniture retailers don't care much about the Black Friday bonanza and don't offer many deals worth looking at. The best times to buy indoor furniture are January and June, and the best deals on outdoor furniture came at the end of the summer.
BUY: HOTEL AND RESORT STAYS
Traveling in the new year? Black Friday is a good time to book future lodging at a hotel or resort, especially in Las Vegas. These properties have posted discounts from 25 percent to more than 50 percent on Black Friday. MGM Grand, for example, slashed nightly rates in half at many of its 4- and 5-star hotels last year, and other Vegas properties followed suit.
DON'T BUY: CRUISES OR AIRFARE
While booking hotels and resorts on Black Friday can get you a good rate, cruises and airfare aren't the best deals. Some price cuts on plane tickets are possible but haven't been noteworthy in past years. Cruise lines may give up a deposit or let kids sail free, but again, prior deals don't stand out in any way.
BUY: A CAR
This one may be a little far-fetched. Who wants to head to the car lot the day after Thanksgiving? Not many people, which is why deals abound. Moreover, with the year nearing its end, dealers will be eager to close a sale — even at a low price — well into December.
DON'T BUY: CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
The right time to buy seasonal or holiday items is after the fact. Smart shoppers get in the habit of stocking up on Christmas decorations after the holiday to have new decor ready and waiting for the current year's celebrations. If you failed to stock up last year, make do with what you have this season, note what you need, and then buy after the holiday is over.
BUY: APPLE PRODUCTS
Shoppers seeking a new Apple product at a good price may not find discounts on the most recent models. Still, stores such as Target, Best Buy, and Walmart advertise excellent deals on older versions of many Apple products and even some new releases. They sometimes come in the form of rebates or gift cards with purchase, rather than lower prices.
DON'T BUY: ANYTHING FROM THE APPLE STORE
If you're looking for deals on Apple products, just don't expect to find them at the Apple Store. Black Friday is one of the rare occasions when the iconic company actually mounts sales, but they've historically been lackluster. Don't be drawn in. Instead, head to major retailers where consumer electronics are more heavily discounted or paired with valuable gift cards.
Past years have seen money-saving deals on tea and wine, product categories not typically associated with Black Friday. Popular tea companies such as Teabloom and nationally distributed wine labels have joined the fray. If a tea or wine connoisseur is on this year's gift list, keep an eye out for compelling discounts, especially online.
DON'T BUY: JEWELRY
Who doesn't want to wake up Christmas morning and find something sparkly under the tree? Demand for baubles climbs during the holiday season, which keeps prices high. Jewelers have little incentive to offer discounts to drum up business during the holiday rush, so don't expect many glittery promotions.
With all the holiday cooking coming up and the fact that kitchenware also makes a welcome gift, it's no surprise that cookware promotions are a regular Black Friday feature. KitchenAid mixers are always a hot item. KitchenAid Professional 500 series 5-quart stand mixers will be available at Best Buy, for example, for the doorbuster price of $220 (a $280 savings).
DON'T BUY: THINGS YOU DON'T NEED
Common sense, right? But somewhere between the door-busting and middle-of-the-night shopping, delirium sets in, and suddenly that big-screen TV that wasn't on the list but seems like a can't-miss deal winds up in your cart. As you navigate the jampacked stores, repeat this mantra: If you don't need it, don't buy it — no matter how sweet the deal.