It’s the craziest shopping day of the year. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, features early bird sales, online deals, doorbuster goodies and more.
Certain items are hot commodities on that day — there’s always a computer or television deal that seems just irresistible. But don’t jump on everything with a sale tag on it.
Following is a quick list of purchases that you should avoid on Black Friday — and better times to make them.
Smart athletes and weekend warriors know to replace their athletic shoes on a regular basis. How often depends on your use and the shoes’ wear.
But Black Friday’s not a good time for deals on sneakers, says RunRepeat, an online athletic shoe retailer that researched prices through the year and concluded that Black Friday sneaker deals are a myth.
Prices for athletic shoes actually creep up — by about 17% — over the 10 weeks before Black Friday. Only 1% of sneakers cost less on Black Friday than any other day, RunRepeat says. In fact, the researchers found Black Friday prices were around $29.72 more per pair than the lowest prices on other days.
When’s a better time to buy? “Try throwing darts at a calendar,” quips RunRepeat.
We’ve all seen the commercials where one spouse surprises the other with a new luxury car that has a bow the size of a large dog strapped on the hood. (We’ve all also probably wondered: Who has this kind of money to spend on a holiday present? And, hey, what kind of store sells that size bow?)
But, OK, let’s say you’ve got that kind of money. And a bow that big.
Even so, don’t buy your new car on Black Friday. Wait a month or so, when dealers may be more likely to offer year-end sales so they can bring in the new models. Ideally, buy a car on New Year’s Eve.
3. Gift cards
Sure, gift cards are kind of impersonal. But they’re still a practical, useful gift, and they allow the recipient to pick out their own present, or enjoy a restaurant meal or movie night.
But as far as buying gift cards, Black Friday isn’t the time for deals. Wait just a few weeks: Often in December, you’ll find gift-card deals, such as an additional, lower-value card thrown in with your purchase for free. That’s a truly good deal — free money! — although, watch out, because those additional cards sometimes have fast-approaching expiration dates.
Couches, recliners, coffee tables … we all have to buy furniture sometime. Savvy furniture buyers know there’s sort of an unwritten schedule about when to buy what.
Black Friday doesn’t make that list, though. You’re better off waiting for the really great sales.
If you need indoor furniture, wait until January-February or July-August, when retailers are trying to dump their old inventory. (Those Labor Day and Presidents Day sales are no joke.) The best deals on outdoor furniture typically are at the end of summer, when those of us in colder climates are beginning to think about packing it up until next year.
5. Holiday decorations
You might find some great deals on holiday decor elements on Black Friday, but the time when stores really want to dump those kinds of seasonal items is after a holiday is over.
It may seem odd to buy Christmas ornaments or yard decorations when the holiday is over and done with, but if you see a great clearance deal, grab it in late December. You will thank yourself next year when it’s time to dig out the decorations.
6. Fitness equipment
Fitness equipment retailers know when their big moment is, and it’s not pre-Christmas. It’s in January, when everyone who’s made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get in shape decides to buy and assemble a home fitness room. The month of June, when exercisers tend to head outdoors and ignore their home gyms, might be another good time to score deals, says LiveStrong.
The same might be true for some gym memberships, but not always: My low-priced Fitness 19 gym (no showers, but close enough to home that I don’t care), always offers its cheapest monthly rate of the year as a Black Friday deal.
So, be sure you’re getting a good deal — because you want to get ripped, not ripped off.
7. Cold-weather clothing
Sure, you can snatch up some great clothing deals on Black Friday. But when it comes to outdoor winter wear, shiver your way through December wearing whatever you’ve got.
The best deals on parkas, snow gear, down coats, fleece jackets and the like won’t come until January. Until then, you’ll have to just chill out.
The hottest toys of past years have created near-riots. Remember the run on electronic toy hamsters named Zhu Zhu Pets during the 2009 winter holidays? Today’s toys may be different, but the rush for the latest and greatest is still on.
Sure, there will be Black Friday deals on toys, but practical parents do their stocking up on toys in January, when stores are trying to get rid of all the playthings left over from the holidays.
9. Calendars and planners
Calendars and planners are so bright, so clean, so full of hope. They haven’t yet been scribbled over with dental appointments, canceled meetings, last-minute trips. But if you’ve ever strolled past a calendar kiosk in the mall, you know how quickly the prices will plummet.
If you can limp along without until January, you might even see 90% reductions on your calendar or planner of choice, since the year it covers has already begun.
The one problem with waiting: That “Hamilton” calendar you were admiring could be sold out, and you might be stuck with “Garfield.”
What’s your plan for Black Friday shopping?
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