October is here, and that means November is next. Why is that important you ask? Well, that means that before you know it Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be here.
As exciting as it is that you can save big on a ton of stuff for just a few days, finding the best deals and knowing what is best to buy can be a daunting task. This is where the Thrifter team comes in handy. We've all discussed what we are looking most forward to this year, to give you an idea of what may be to come.
- Jared DiPane (Smart Home, Unlocked Phones)
- Jessica Bodey (Toys, Kitchen Appliances)
- J.D. Levite (Apple products, Xbox consoles)
- Louryn Strampe (Beauty Supplies, Clothing)
- Alex Smith (Music, Movies, Books)
Let's take a look at what each team member thinks Black Friday and Cyber Monday will hold as far as deals, and some things that each of us are looking forward to.
Black Friday is one of those days where it feels like any and everything you need is on sale. After having worked retail for a few years, I quickly realized that not every "discount" you see is actually a good deal. That said, I still get excited about certain things.
This year, I think Smart Home accessories will be the center of a lot of deals. Throughout the year, we've seen things like the Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Thermostat, WeMo Smart Plugs, and Philips Hue Smart Lights hit new lows in terms of pricing. I think that these prices will drop even further on Black Friday. I'd hope to see the Nest Thermostat reach closer to $175, and the WeMo Smart Plugs will be an instant-buy at around $22 each. As for the Hue Bulbs, since I already have the Starter Kit, I'd like to buy a few more for around $33 each.
This time around I'll probably look for something from TCL or Vizio.
We've also seen more companies release unlocked smartphones, and more consumers begin to buy them instead of going through their carriers. I'd imagine some good Black Friday pricing on everything from entry level phones to flagship. Don't sleep on the carrier's, though. In an effort to stay relevant, I'd bet we see some trade-in offers that will be enticing (but be sure to read the fine print), and probably some buy one, get one offers that appear better than they actually are.
Last, but not least for me, I am looking for a new TV. I know, I know. A lot of times the discounted models that are available on Black Friday are made exclusively for Black Friday and yadda yadda. But, let me just tell you something I learned working in the home theater business. Those "off-brand" TVs you buy are all using some manufacturer's left-over parts that they got at a discount, anyway. I'm looking for a TV to put in my bedroom, probably something between 40 and 50 inches, and 4K doesn't really matter to me. I've had luck with Samsung and LG in the past, but this time around I'll probably look for something from TCL or Vizio.
Black Friday is known for getting the best deals on electronics, but for myself, it is when I start and complete my daughter's Christmas list. This means toys. Lots and lots of toys. One of the hottest toys on the market right now is the L.O.L. Big Surprise Doll. If you are a parent, then you are no stranger to this newest kid obsession - the blind bag. For those of you who are lucky enough to not be familiar with this, blind bags became popular from YouTube. You buy a tiny bag, usually around $3-$6, and you have no idea what is inside. You do get a little hint on the packaging. For example, it might say "Littlest Pet Shop". So now you know you will be getting something from that series but no idea what that something might be.
The L.O.L Big Surprise is just like that. They are balls that come layered with a doll or dolls and doll accessories. The newest ball is called the "Big" Surprise Doll because it comes with 50 accessories and dolls as well as a "special edition" doll that the kids will say is a "super rare". This toy will most likely be number one on your child's Christmas list this year. My daughter has already been working on me to get her one or to talk to Santa and see if he would be willing to. They are currently priced at $69.99 and we have already seen pre-orders go out of stock. Now we are just holding our breath to see the first deal on them.
Being its second year on the market, we can expect the price to drop for the holiday season.
The Code-a-pillar was a huge hit last year and bound to be another win this year. As a parent, I love when my child gets a toy that is not only fun for them, but they are also learning something at the same time. The Code-a-pillar does just that. Computers are the most powerful source of information we have. So it should come as no surprise that pretty soon, everyone is going to have to learn how to code. Why not start them young? Coding is like learning a new language, and when is it easiest to learn a new language? As a kid of course.
Kids can arrange and rearrange the easy-to-connect segments in endless combinations sending the Code-a-pillar on his path. This learning toy also teaches problem solving, planning, sequencing and critical thinking. Qualities we all would like to instill in our children. The Code-a-pillar is currently selling for $25 at Best Buy, but with this being its second year on the market, we can expect the price to drop for the holiday season.
Kitchen appliances are a huge category when it comes to Black Friday, and as a result, stores are getting more and more competitive with their offerings each year. One example is the classic $10 small kitchen appliances doorbuster from Macy's. You can get it year-round, but on Black Friday you may have the option to earn Macy's Money -- it's up to you to decide which option is most frugal.
I don't care what anyone says, KitchenAid Mixers are the must-have appliance in your kitchen. They are essential. They can do everything. They are magic. The problem? They are expensive! The best deal I have ever seen on a KitchenAid Mixer came last Black Friday. Kohl's had the KitchenAid Pro 600 Stand Mixer, normally $450 on sale for $280 with $45 in Kohl's Cash, making it the best Black Friday deal and the best deal for that model ever. I am expecting to see the same offer or an even better offer this year. You bet I will have my eyes peeled for that one.
I am a cheapskate. Even my own deal recommendations are usually not frugal enough for me, and it's hard to be cheap and love tech. So when it comes to some of the best tech, those premium brands that just don't like to go on sale very often, Black Friday is a good time to find exactly what I need. Apple products, for example, are weird. They're almost always in demand in the holidays and rarely on sale. Apple just doesn't enjoy discounting prices and most retailers sell Apple stuff at a very thin margin for profit. Because of this, some very easy to predict rules emerge for people who want to buy Apple on Black Friday.
Rule 1: Don't buy from Apple. It's a waste of time. Apple's best annual deal is the Back-to-School promotions and those are long gone by Black Friday. Look for deals from authorized retailers. Maybe look at Apple if you don't mind refurbished products because Apple's refurb store is pretty nice.
Look for previous gens.
Rule 2: Look for gift cards. If we're including the money saved from gift cards in the overall total of the price, gift card deals are the best way to save money on Black Friday and still get the iPad you've been eyeing. The best three retailers for gift card deals are Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. The problem is the gift cards can't be used on the product you're buying, so you'll still end up paying near retail price. And, of course, gift cards are limited to where you can use them. Keeps you in that retailer's ecosystem, which is why big retailers you already use are your best bets. This, incidentally, will be the best way to find a deal on the new iPhone 8. It'll be some retailer like Target saying "Buy the iPhone 8 at regular price and get this $100 gift card."
Rule 3: Look for previous gens. If you really want a direct price drop, because gift cards are a cop-out, then you'll need to go back a generation or two. Apple upgrades most product lineups once a year, sometimes more with size and storage changes. Once a product is updated, the previous gens are discontinued and the sales start rolling in from retailers looking to offload inventory. You're not going to lose a lot of functionality getting a tablet from spring 2017 instead of summer 2017. But doing so could save you a few hundred dollars.
The current generation of video game consoles includes several variations of each other. For example, the Xbox One has the original Xbox One, the Xbox One S, and the Xbox One X. The PlayStation 4 has the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Slim and the PlayStation Pro. The Nintendo Switch has the Nintendo Switch in stock and the Nintendo Switch out of stock. Because of this, you can expect to see a lot of deals on the earlier generations of these consoles. The beautiful thing is, if you have the Xbox One S you'll still be able to play all the games that come out for the Xbox One X. They might be a little less pretty but you'll also be sitting on a pile of money because the Xbox One S is going to be on sale for several hundred dollars less than the Xbox One X. We've already seen this with huge bundle deals straight from Microsoft over Labor Day weekend.
Probably the least likely console to see on sale will be the Xbox One X because it's only officially releasing on Nov 7. Still, because it's coming out right before the big holiday sales I would imagine we'll see a lot of bundle deals. You might not get the console on sale, but if you can get some of the bigger blockbuster games for free or at a discount, that's as good as gold. The PlayStation Pro is a year old at this point, though, so even though it's the Xbox One X's most contemporary competitor, we will probably see deals on it from the bigger retailers, and you can definitely expect to see some bundled deals.
The Nintendo Switch has been struggling to stay in stock throughout most of the year, but supply is catching up with demand at just the perfect time. We haven't seen a lot of deals on the console itself without including some bundled games, but Nintendo is going to flaunt the Switch as the perfect console for children and families and the mobile generation. It's going to be big this year with some huge games, like Super Mario Odyssey, on the way out, too. Look for big bundle deals, gift card deals, doorbusters, and maybe if you're lucky some direct discounts.
Beauty has always and will always be one of my favorite Black Friday categories. I get so excited in the months leading up to Black Friday when brands give sneak peeks of their upcoming holiday collections and I can start making a list of my must-haves. Even if you aren't a makeup junkie, I bet you know someone who is, and saving money on makeup can be difficult.
Black Friday beauty deals make amazing gifts and they're usually super affordable. I know because I buy all of them.
In 2016, I actually made money from a Macy's Black Friday beauty deal.
In 2016, I actually made money from a Macy's Black Friday beauty deal. The items were $12.50, I got $10 from a cashback website, and choosing no-rush shipping got me $10 in Macy's Money. Every year I find myself coming back to Sephora's Black Friday sale; they always have a huge selection of gifts for $10 each. While you might not see discounts on brand-new releases, keep in mind that holiday collections tend to be affordable since the beauty world gets so competitive around that time of year. Even inexpensive companies like Colourpop and BH Cosmetics have held great Black Friday sales in the past. Joining rewards programs, like Ultamate Rewards or Sephora Beauty Insider, can give you sweet perks and early access to the best beauty Black Friday deals.
Clothes are something you can save on year-round, but that doesn't mean you should sleep on Black Friday clothing deals. No matter what you're shopping for, there is bound to be a sale that meets or beats the best deals you've seen. A personal favorite of mine is Express; they always have 50% off sitewide and free shipping. You'll be able to save on high-end brands like Nike, Kate Spade, and Levi's. Shoes fall into this category as well, and you can bet on sitewide sales from stores like TOMS as well as the classic $20 women's boots doorbuster from department stores. There will be deals online and as in-store. I can't wait to see the Cartwheel offers Target comes up with, since they were so good in 2016.
As stores become more competitive year after year, one of the ways they maintain an edge is with their rewards programs. Last year, Kohl's won Black Friday for me by far, and that's because of their Kohl's Cash. They were able to meet every other retailer on low prices, and then stacking Kohl's Cash on top of it made for the best deal overall. Target followed a similar model by offering stacking Cartwheel coupons with their best holiday deals. Since you can't redeem Cartwheel offers online, that move forced customers to come to Target (and stay away from everywhere else). Target offered up gift cards with purchases of hot items that normally are not discounted, like Apple iPads and Beats. Amazon made their best deals even better for Prime members, whether that meant exclusive discounts or early access. The point: figure out which rewards program benefits you the most, and factor that in when shopping this Black Friday. If you never shop at Kohl's, $200 back in Kohl's Cash isn't going to do much for you. The same goes for Macy's Money and Target gift cards. Plan your attack in advance so you have a better idea of what you want when the deals start rolling out.
Black Friday shopping for me usually includes three things: books, music, and DVDs. This sales holiday is a perfect way to stock up on entertainment media, and for the most part, these deals aren't too hard to catch when they go live either. No matter your stance on physical vs. digital media, $5 CDs and Blu-rays is amazing. Too many people take for granted just how much money, heart and effort go into producing the music contained on a CD or the amount of people who had to come together to create the newest Spiderman movie. As a person who still cherishes owning favorite films, novels and albums physically, Black Friday simply can't be beaten.
There will certainly be some Marvel films on sale without a doubt, and we'll probably see the regular discounts on other film series like Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. There's always a wide variety of discounted music, so expect titles like Melodrama by Lorde, Joanne by Lady Gaga, DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar and other late 2016/early 2017 releases to receive a nice price cut too.
A discounted Nintendo Switch would be a true doorbuster...
It'd also be a good time to pick up some quality headphones if you're in need. With the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs just released with Google Assistant being built into them, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can grab a pair of the previous model now that stores will want to rid themselves of the "older" version. The noise-cancellation on these is truly magical, and I need it in my life.
Meanwhile, as with every other year, I'm sure the video game deals will be through the roof. A discounted Nintendo Switch would be a true doorbuster, considering the best deal we've ever seen on it involved getting it for $299 (without tax). Pairing it with just one game would get people so stoked, but don't expect it to be an easy task to get your hands on one if there is such a deal. With the new PSVR redesign just announced, I also bet we're going to see a nice offer on the PlayStation Virtual Reality headset and camera, and probably some PSVR games too. It's also a perfect time for the PlayStation Pro to receive a temporary price cut considering it will be over a year old by then. There are always a ton of games discounted too for every console, so we'll likely see price drops on games like Crash Bandicoot: N'Sane Trilogy, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Destiny 2.
Is there something you are hoping to see, or a deal not mentioned that others should be looking out for? Drop a line in the comments and let us know. Random commenters will receive a $10 Amazon eGift Card, so be sure to share this article with your friends so they can enter as well.
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