How to Survive Black Friday: Deals and Steals for 2021

It is just around this time of November every year that I begin to get mildly anxious about the looming Black Friday. Every year I find myself lined up behind freezing hoards of sleep-deprived shoppers, rubbing my eyes and hoping that the ten minutes till midnight could disappear so I may finally enter the warmth and fluorescent lighting of Macys. Black Friday is a tradition in my family; one that we never skip or miss (unless a pandemic gets in the way of course). After a break last year from the destined chaos, I once again foresee in my future a long night next Friday, filled with Starbucks and vending machine visits. And so, as is always tradition (at least for me), the two weeks prior, I work on prep for my fated night, scouring ads and articles for the best deals I can find, hoping to make it go as smooth as possible. I thought I would share my aggregated list as it might be of some use for those like me who look towards Black Friday like an omen. Here is what to expect for those expecting an extra long Thanksgiving weekend; a list of presents for others or yourself, curated perfectly for the college kid:


UPDATE: Holiday Shopping is On! See Which Hot Deals Guests are Bringing Home
Photo from A Bullseye Review (2017)

Target

Target’s Black Friday technically begins on November 21st online this year, and runs till the 27th. Of course, the store will be having in-person deals on Black Friday, but Target seems to be pushing for a more virtual Black Friday option this year. Though, their ad seems to hint at new offers specifically on Thursday.

The biggest deals this year seem to be on headphones, televisions, and kid’s toys. Most of the deals include gift cards to Target, like the Oculus Quest VR Headset ($299.99) which includes a $50 gift card when purchased. Nearly all headphones are $100 off, and Disney toys are Bogo 50% off. For those slowly furnishing first apartments, cookware, toasters, hand mixers, stand mixers, blenders, and pressure cookers are all joining the shopping madness with up to $25 off some items.

Hitting Target is always a must for my family, but that is less for the deals and more because there’s always something to find there. For the new Black Friday shopper or for the college kid on a budget, I would be wary of the Black Friday Target; it is hard to leave the store without buying something on a normal day, and this is Black Friday we are talking about. I would say to only go there in person if you see something specific on their ad that you are 100% committed to seeing and buying in person, otherwise shop online. I’d recommend the pressure cooker deal and of course Target’s infamous gift card deal though for those looking for a good bang for your buck.


Walmart plans to be fully stocked for Black Friday | Fortune
Photo from Gunnar Rathbun in Fortune (2015)

Walmart

Walmart seems to be doing a similar set-up to Target for their Black Friday shenanigans. Online deals begin on November 22nd at 7pm and go through Black Friday, whereas the in-person Black Friday deals begin at 5 am. Interestingly though, the beginning day of their online deals (November 22nd) has some exclusives, similar to the exclusive items for Black Friday itself.

Exclusively on November 22nd, the Xbox series X and the PlayStation 5 are both going separately for $499 (a big deal since these have been so hard to get ahold of recently). Otherwise, the big deals here seem to be on Roombas, iPhones, and videogames (emphasis on those for Nintendo switch).

I am not a big Walmart fan, and my family usually tends to skip this one for Black Friday. However, this year’s deal on Nintendo switch games has peaked my interest. With the normal price on switch games fluctuating anywhere from $15 to $60 per game, their $35 each deal does seem like something I might find myself nosing around on come November 22nd. Notebly though, Walmart members seem to get first dibs this year, so there is a chance many of these deals will be gone before they open to the general public.


Black Friday Best Buy: Sales ad, when it starts & best deals | Windows  Central
Photo from Alex Smith (2020)

BestBuy

For this big box store, the sales have already begun, with new deals starting on November 19th through Cyber Monday. BestBuy is also running a “deals guaranteed” program where, if a price drops after you purchased an item, they plan to refund you that dropped amount. They will be having in-person offers on Black Friday, but it seems many of the deals will be online between the 19th and Thanksgiving.

Some of the big offers include $100 of the Dyson cord-free vacuum, $50 gift card to BestBuy with the purchase of the Oculus Quest 2 VR Headset (similar to Target’s deal), and tons of offers on laptops, Fitbits and TVs.

We always tend to stop by BestBuy during Black Friday, but seldom do we walk out with a purchase. A lot of the deals BestBuy offers are the same as other, more versatile places, and when it comes to having so little time for shopping, I tend to not want to go anywhere where I might not buy something. If you are to take advantage of anything on BestBuy’s deal list, I’d recommend the dyson deal, and BestBuy usually has some good prices on videogames too.


Customers make their way to the mall during black Friday sales at the King of Prussia Mall, In King of Prussia, Pa. Friday, November 27, 2020.
Photo from Jose Moreno (2020)

Rapid Round

Some of the best deals I have found from the smaller Black Friday stores:

  • Costco
    • Up to $500 off diamond and 24k gold jewelry
    • Around 50% off the Samsung ChromeBook
  • Kohls
    • An extra 15% off everything for the Black Friday sale
    • Half off air fryers, instant pots and Keurigs
  • Macy’s
    • 60% to 70% off Women’s Coats
    • Extra 20% off all Black Friday Sales
    • $200 diamond earrings free with a $25 purchase
    • 60% to 70% off bedding and sheets
  • Home Depot
    • Over $50 off most power tool kits
    • Over 50% off most furniture and décor
  • Ulta
    • 50% off nearly all doorbusters (Morphe, NYX, perfume, etc.)
    • Free gift of a plush robe or Marc Jacobs fragrance with $60 purchases
  • Nordstrom
    • 65% off men’s coats and jackets
    • 60% off bags, wallets, jewelry, and women’s tops
    • Big deals on Free People, Nike, Tory Burch, Levi’s, and NorthFace

While I don’t usually spend too much time at the big Black Friday stores, the stores with the smaller, less advertised sales are the one’s I really try to capitalize on. Every year, without fail, we hit up GameStop, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Home Depot, Ulta, Aeropostale, American Eagle, and the local outlet stores; these are our big hunting grounds. I would, time and time again, recommend these over the bigger stores. You always can find something unique at an amazing price. I am incredibly excited for Ulta this year, and anyone with a makeup or perfume-loving individual in their life should too. Nordstrom looks like a huge hit for men’s apparel, and I can’t help but look forward to seeing what my local mall has in store. A lot of these stores don’t let out all of their secrets before the fated day, and that is where the true fun really lies.


Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Photo from Jack Taylor (2018)

Conclusion

In total, the secret for any new Black Friday shopper is to go somewhere unexpected. If you are looking to partake in the chaos of Black Friday, go to your favorite stores, not the ones you have seen the most on TV. A lot of the places that don’t advertise as much are the ones that have the best presents and the best deals (they also tend to have less crowds). Keep an eye out for anything 50% off or more when searching, and don’t be afraid to go where you don’t expect to find a deal. The true secret is not to treat the day like a chore; treat it like an opportunity, and you will most certainly find something fun.

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