The Truth About Holiday Deals
Many people think the early holiday shopping season — especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday — is the best time of year to score deep discounts on everything from clothing to flat-screen TVs. But is it really?
Before you swipe your card or click "buy" on a holiday deal, take a step back to assess whether it's really a deal at all. Here's what you should know about holiday shopping deals.
Is It Still Worth Shopping on Black Friday?
Retailers have been starting their sales earlier every year. There are also new shopping holidays that have cropped up alongside Black Friday. This includes Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. Plus, many retailers are now extending sales over a month instead of just one day.1
That means you don't have to shop on Black Friday to score a discount. Instead, you can shop at your leisure throughout the month. In fact, the best holiday deals of the year may actually be found on December 23.2
And if you're considering a non-urgent purchase (like a new TV), you don't even have to decide this year. A Wall Street Journal investigation3 found that retailers tend to recycle the same deals year after year. Let's say you missed out on discounts offered by retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy last year. There's a high chance those exact same deals will be on offer again this holiday season.
This doesn't mean you can't find some good deals during the holiday season. And since you don't have to jump on Black Friday sales, you now have more time to evaluate offers and plan your spending.
Do you know the real difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday Deals Week
Though Black Friday has been around longer, Cyber Monday has also emerged as one of the biggest shopping days of the year. However, you may not be sure what the difference is between the two. Knowing what deals are worth pursuing on Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday can help you stick to your holiday shopping budget.
The biggest difference is that Cyber Monday takes place exclusively online.4 Additionally, while Black Friday deals are leaked as early as October, Cyber Monday deals are largely unknown until that week.
The other big difference between the days: which products have the best sales.5 Black Friday sales usually center around expensive tech items. This includes smartphones, TVs, laptops, headphones, and speakers. The best Cyber Monday deals tend to be for smaller appliances such as vacuums, stand mixers and espresso machines.
How to Budget for Holiday Spending
Want to shop during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any other holiday events? It's important to start planning now so you don't end up in the red at the end of the year.
First, review your budget early on and decide how much you can afford to spend during the holidays. Then start setting aside some money each month leading up to the shopping season. You can even open a separate savings account just for your holiday funds so there's less temptation to spend it on other expenses.
Next, do some research to be sure a sale you're considering is really a good deal. You can use a price tracking tool6 to find out if a price is truly discounted compared to the rest of the year. These tools can also let you know if a better price can be found elsewhere. Want to be notified if the price drops in the future? These tools will let you do that too.
The deep discounts on Black Friday may be few and far between compared to the earlier years, but that doesn't mean you can't still score good deals. By planning and saving ahead of time — and weighing your options — you can stick to your budget, save money on your holiday gifts, and make sure no one gets cut from the list.
Important disclosure information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- Lauren Thomas and Melissa Repko, "Black Friday is over: Here's why retailers are touting weeks of deals this year," CNBC, published October 2, 2020, accessed August 9, 2021. Back
- Hayley Peterson, “Black Friday has been dethroned — there's a new biggest shopping day of the year," Business Insider, published, October 6, 2016, accessed July 30, 2021. Back
- Suzanne Kapner, “Black Friday's Inside Secret: Same Deals Every Year," The Wall Street Journal, published November 1, 2016, accessed July 30, 2021. Back
- Casey Bond, “Black Friday Vs. Cyber Monday: Here's The Real Difference," HuffPost, published November 28, 2019, accessed July 30, 2021. Back
- Olivia Tambini and Michael Hicks, “Black Friday vs Cyber Monday: what's the difference?" Tech Radar, published November 28, 2020, accessed July 30, 2021. Back
- Alan Henry and Lisa Rowan, "The Five Best Price Tracking Tools," Lifehacker, published September 18, 2019, accessed July 30, 2021. Back
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