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Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: What to Buy Each Day

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Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are melting together more and more. But there are still some smart buys for each day.

Calibrating your Thanksgiving weekend shopping strategy? Good. You’ll be seeing an overwhelming number of deals Thursday to Monday, and it pays to have a plan.

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become increasingly indistinguishable from each other — and have blended into a nebulous five-day haze of deals — there are still a few products that are best to buy on one day over the other.

What to buy Thanksgiving/Black Friday

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are increasingly bleeding together. In fact, these days, especially if you are shopping online, you can consider Thanksgiving to be the start of Black Friday. If any of these items are on your shopping list, buy them as soon as deals go live on Thanksgiving. Do not wait until Friday, hoping deals will get better. Retailers often start their online Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving (or Thanksgiving Eve) and run them until they sell out. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll sweeten the deal on Black Friday itself. However, if a deal does sell out online on Thanksgiving, shopping in a store on Black Friday may be your only chance to snag it.

TVs: Black Friday is about the doorbusters, and TVs lead the doorbuster charge. You’ll find 4K TVs at the lowest prices you’ll find all year. And most of these deals will start on Thanksgiving instead of Black Friday.

While those famous doorbusters will be in limited supply (and, in rare cases, in-store only), the Black Friday TV craze will pull down the prices of all models, so you’ll be getting a deal even if you don’t snag a doorbuster. In fact, it’s sometimes better if you don’t go after doorbuster TVs which are often lower-quality brands and cheap derivative models. Instead, research the best TV brands and look for those on Black Friday.

Notable deals we saw in 2018 included:

  • 50-inch 4K TVs starting at $249
  • 60-inch 4K TVs starting at $349
  • 65-inch 4k TVs starting at $399

See our TV price predictions for 2019.

While you’ll see some good Cyber Monday TV deals, the discounts won’t be as dramatic and the selection won’t be as big.

Toys: Toys are another popular Black Friday item, and they fill retailers’ Black Friday ads. But it’s not just low prices that make Black Friday the best day to shop for toys: Hot toys will sell out fast for the holidays, so you want to buy as soon as possible. The most popular toys will be sold out before Black Friday draws to a close, so forget about waiting until Cyber Monday. Get started on your toy shopping on Thanksgiving (as many retailers will start their Black Friday toy deals on Thanksgiving Day or earlier). Want to know which toys will sell out the fastest? Check the retailer’s toy book ads, which get released in September and October and which list out the most popular toys of the year.

Gaming consoles: Gaming console prices drop in price on Black Friday because they are sought-after holiday gifts. And the popularity of the newest systems means you’ll want to hit the ground running on Black Friday instead of waiting a few days.

You’ll still see some gaming deals on Cyber Monday. But, last year, the most popular bundles (including the Mario Kart 8 Nintendo Switch bundle) were sold out by Black Friday. For 2019, with an upgrade to the original Switch and the new Switch Lite out in September, this incredibly popular console shows no signs of slowing down. So, if you see a deal on a system you want on Black Friday (or earlier), pounce on it.

Appliances: Department stores like Macy’s and Sears and electronics stores, such as Best Buy, go all in on Black Friday, discounting practically everything they carry. In addition to the more celebrated discounts on electronics, you’ll find plenty of discounts in the appliance department as well. If your home needs some upgrades, Black Friday is a smart time to shop for refrigerators, ranges and washer/dryer combos.

What to buy Cyber Monday

If you’re shopping for any of the following items, you’re safe — or even better off — waiting until Cyber Monday. Just keep in mind that many retailers start their Cyber Monday sales on the Saturday or Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend. These days, you’re just as likely to find a “Cyber Weekend” sale as a “Cyber Monday” one.

Laptops/PCs: Cyber Monday centers on tech deals, meaning laptops, desktops and gaming PCs will be in the spotlight. You’ll find plenty of computer deals on Black Friday, it’s true, but you’ll see those deals repeated (or slightly improved) on Cyber Monday when eBayNewegg and Amazon target tech shoppers.

And don’t forget about accessories. External storage, memory cards, cables, keyboards, headphones and the like will all be marked down as well.

Travel: Save your online travel bookings for Cyber Monday. You’ll find airlines offering heavily discounted tickets on certain routes and travel sites offering flash deals on vacation packages. Booking sites, cruise lines and resorts alike are eager to sell inventory for the post-holiday period, and Cyber Monday deals are how they entice travelers. And if you miss the boat entirely, you’ll have another chance: The day after Cyber Monday is Travel Tuesday.

Online subscriptions and educational software: Cyber Monday began as the online-shopping counterpoint to Black Friday. So one little-known area with big potential discounts is online subscriptions.

Think Audible, Udemy, Lynda and Rosetta Stone.

Clothing: Clothing sellers, such as ASOS, Old Navy, Gap and others, have a fantastic Cyber Monday tradition for clothing shoppers — sitewide discount codes. Instead of hunting for product-specific deals, just select what you want, enter the promo code and get 30% to 50% off your entire cart. While Black Friday may boast deep discounts on specific items, we think sitewide promo codes are a far more time-efficient way to save because you don’t have to worry about buying specific products. And, speaking of sitewide discounts, Target has made it a tradition (several years running) to offer 15% off site wide.

Buy on either

Smart home devices: Smart home assistants (including Amazon’s Echo and Google Home) fall in price for the entirety of Thanksgiving weekend. Plus, smart lights, smart doorbells and smart thermostats will be on sale, too. In past years, there have been no significant changes in price throughout the weekend. And deals we see on Black Friday either continue through Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday or reappear on Cyber Monday.

So, if you’re looking for smart home deals, you can shop all weekend long.

Phones: Phone deals are plentiful on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’ve noticed a slight change for the newest phone models between Friday and Monday. Last Black Friday trended toward retail-gift-cards-with-purchase deals, while Cyber Monday deals were more likely to be BOGO specials offered by carriers. So you may want to take that into account, depending on which type of deal you’d rather receive. But, if you’re in the market for a new phone, keep your eyes peeled for deals the whole weekend.

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