If you’re an avid shopper, you’ve already got Nov. 25 circled on your calendar. That’s Black Friday this year — and the epicenter of the entire holiday shopping season.
Over the past few years, we’ve tracked a steady “Black Friday creep.” What was once a single day has engulfed most of November and even October. These days, retailers start the Black Friday hype early (as early as October) with pre-Black Friday sales — and kick off their official Black Friday online deals as soon as a week before Thanksgiving. Plus, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have, in many ways, melded together to create a weekend-long shopping marathon, with deals starting on Black Friday, deals continuing through Saturday and Sunday, and yet MORE deals kicking off on Cyber Monday.
In sum: Long gone are the days when Black Friday deals started and ended on Black Friday.
If this all sounds chaotic, you’re right. And that’s why you need a plan. Especially this year. With inflation surging, making the right Black Friday purchases can help you avoid overspending for the holidays AND pick up some necessities that will help you weather the year ahead.
So we’re here to help you make a solid shopping list. Here’s our official list of what to buy and what NOT to buy on Black Friday.
Full disclosure: I spent four holiday seasons as the editor of our sister site, BlackFriday.com, poring over every page of every retailer’s Black Friday ad. Our picks below are based on recent years’ best deals. Things are subject to change, though (especially in these unprecedented times), so check back for updates.
The Best Things to Buy on Black Friday
If you’re shopping for any of the below items, rest assured they’ll be at some of the lowest prices of the year on Black Friday. So feel good about adding them to your cart, checking out quickly and then relaxing the rest of Thanksgiving weekend.
Computers, Laptops and Tablets
If you’re in need of a new laptop, desktop, gaming PC or tablet, Black Friday is the time to upgrade. Apple products will be on sale at retailers like Best Buy (don’t bother with Apple.com itself, though). Plus, Dell, Lenovo and HP will all be dropping online doorbusters the entire weekend. These electronics sale events can be tough to navigate, so check out their Black Friday ads in advance to see what’s dropping and when.
Often, the lowest doorbuster prices will be on machines with weak specs. However, because the price is already lower than usual, you can use that “extra” money to upgrade your storage and processing power. Check out this PCMag guide to learn which specs you actually need. Keep in mind that, if you’re customizing your laptop in any way, you may need to prep for a longer shipping time due to worker shortages and ongoing chip shortages. The good news, though, is that the chip shortage that absolutely plagued last year’s holiday shopping season appears to be easing.
Need a new tablet? Tablets are among the best Black Friday buys. Check out Best Buy and Target — iPad deals on Black Friday are practically inevitable at both. And check out Amazon’s deals on its own products (Fire tablets and Kindles). On Prime Day this year, Amazon dropped its Fire HD 8 tablet to $44.99 (originally $89.99), its Fire HD 10 tablet to $74.99 (originally $150).
If you’ve been on the fence about buying a new fancy stand mixer, a blender, an air fryer or pressure cooker, set your sights on Black Friday.
Deals on pressure cookers (think: Instant Pot) and air fryers are so common on Black Friday that they’re practically run-of-the-mill. Expect 50% off across the board.
Expect deep savings on blenders as well, including those from NutriBullet and Vitamix. You’ll find savings at those retailers themselves, but also check out Black Friday deals from Walmart, Target, Kohl’s and Macy’s. Kohl’s is known for offering special Kohl’s Cash offers with small appliances, and that Kohl’s Cash can be handy for last-minute holiday purchases.
And, if there’s one kitchen product to put on your radar on Black Friday, that’s the KitchenAid mixer. There are several models, and some get reliably discounted by $100 or more during Black Friday sales. The stores to check for these deals are Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Macy’s, Kohl’s and KitchenAid itself. The past couple years, we saw Black Friday discounts on KitchenAid mixers quickly sell out. And we know that getting the color that matches your kitchen is vital — so make the KitchenAid mixer the first thing you add to your cart this year, if it’s on your list.
Airpods, Other Wireless Earbuds and Headphones
Airpods and earbuds that compete with Airpods have been the stars of the Black Friday show the past two seasons, with retailers like Walmart and Target placing tempting deals front and center in their ads. In 2021, we saw the AirPods Pro (full price: $249) for a record low of $159 at Walmart’s Black Friday sale. That deal sold out quickly, but other retailers jumped in at the $189 mark. We also saw Target slash the $249.95 price of the Powerbeats Pro down to $149.99 and the Beats Studio Buds True Wireless earphones down from $149.99 to $99.99.
And don’t forget Echo Buds (normally $119.99) — Amazon dropped them to $69.99 for Prime Day 2022 and will likely rerun that price for Black Friday.
While earbuds are incredibly popular and portable, if you need bigger guns (like over-ear headphones for noise cancellation and/or comfort), you’ll find plenty of Black Friday deals on those, too. Last year, we saw Bose’s QuietComfort 45 headphones (full price: $329) available at Target for a whopping 43% off, bringing them down to $179.99.
Smart Home Gadgets
For anyone who doesn’t already have an Amazon Echo speaker or Google Nest smart speaker, there will be plenty of deals on Black Friday. There always are. Amazon and Google have a multiyear tradition of dropping prices on their smart speakers by 40% or more on Black Friday. It’s also common to see BOGO deals, with a smart bulb, smart plug or even another smart speaker thrown in. Google and Amazon want to get as many households as possible to buy into their ecosystem of products, so they drop their prices on smart speakers (their gateway products) as low as possible. For example, Amazon’s Echo Show 5 smart video screen dropped to $39 (53% off) during Black Friday 2021 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
As for the entry-level screenless smart speakers, those drop to stocking-stuffer prices. We just saw the Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen.) drop to $19.99 during this year’s Prime Day. The Google Nest Mini was at $24.99 last Black Friday at a variety of retailers, including Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Video Games and Gaming Consoles
Finding a discount on any gaming system this year is going to be iffy, given that some of the newer consoles (the PS5 and Xbox Series X) are still relatively very popular and have been sold out for much of 2022. In fact, finding the Series X and PS5 in stock can be considered a deal. When it comes to the Xbox Series S or Nintendo Switch, you’ll likely be able to find bundles (the console at full price, but with some games, accessories or even a gift card thrown in).
You’ll have more luck when it comes to video games. Every year, retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and GameStop trot out a slew of deals. You’ll find plenty of options for $15. While the most sought-after games won’t plummet that low, last year, Walmart offered some popular Nintendo Switch games for $25 off.
Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers
Black Friday is the perfect time to upgrade your existing smartwatch or fitness tracker — or make the leap to getting one.
Black Friday is one of the few times of year when you are almost guaranteed to find the Apple Watch on sale. That goes for older models as well as the newest. You won’t find the absolute biggest discounts on the absolute newest model of the Apple Watch (that’s the Series 8 this year), but you might find some discounts. In 2021, Target knocked $60 off the price off the Apple Watch SE (GPS). And if you’re willing to go back a few generations, you’ll find deeper discounts — Walmart took $90 off the Series 3 (GPS) for Black Friday 2021.
If you don’t need a full-blown smartwatch, check out Fitbit and other fitness trackers. We saw the Fitbit Inspire 2 for 25% off during Black Friday 2021 at Target and the more robust Fitbit Charge 4 for $50 off plus $30 in Kohl’s Cash from Kohl’s.
Home Goods (Towels and Sheets)
Linen cabinet stuff is the unsung hero of Black Friday. But if you need to stock up, towels and sheets are a truly underrated Black Friday buy. You’ll find them for up to 60% off at retailers like Target, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s. And they sell out surprisingly quickly.
Add massage guns to the list of “things you won’t know you need until you need them.” Massage guns generally retail for above $100, and we’ve seen Black Friday deals for as much as 30% off on Amazon. And getting big-ticket items for WAY less is what Black Friday is all about.
What NOT to Buy on Black Friday
It might be hard to believe there’s a bad buy to be had on Black Friday. And it’s true that almost everything is on sale. However, there are a few products that it’s smart to skip or buy at another time of year. If any of the below items are on your shopping list, by all means, check out the deals. But don’t focus on these items at the expense of missing deals on the items above.
You’ll find clothing deals aplenty on Black Friday. But these deals are often offered on specific items, rather than across the board (although, last year, we did see some pretty healthy sitewide promo codes). Plus, there’s no rush to buy clothing on Black Friday: Retailers will offer promo codes worth 20% to 60% off your entire cart throughout Cyber Weekend. So, if clothing is of interest to you, shop the items above (which WILL sell out) first, and then shift to updating your wardrobe.
And remember, if you’re shopping for winter clothing, wait until January. There will still be snow on the ground, but retailers will be thinning the racks for spring and possibly offer even better clearance deals than they offered on Black Friday.
The Cheapest Doorbuster 4K TV You See
Retailers work hard to make you want to buy that dirt-cheap doorbuster TV by placing it front and center in their Black Friday ads. But that TV is not your smartest buy. For one thing, it’ll sell out in minutes. For another, it is likely a cheap derivative model that will glitch and require replacing within a couple years. Instead, find a better set with a more modest discount — or better yet, wait until right before the Big Game, when retailers run sales on higher-quality TV sets.
If you are out there shopping for TVs on Black Friday, make sure you understand SKUs so that you know what you’re getting.
The Latest Gaming Systems
The newest Xbox and PlayStation consoles are still hard to come by and won’t get discounted this season. The same goes for the new Nintendo Switch OLED, and even the original Switch is unlikely to see discounts (although you might find some bundled deals, with games and accessories thrown in). As for the Switch Lite, we’ve seen some colors discounted by $10 this year, so you might find modest discounts on Black Friday. All in all, gaming consoles aren’t going to see any exciting discounts this year, so don’t make them your focus, unless just finding one in stock is enough for you.
You’ll find some furniture deals in major retailers’ Black Friday ads — and furniture stores will offer their own sales. But, unless you absolutely need to replace that sectional, bed or dining room table, there’s no reason you absolutely must shop for furniture on Black Friday and divert your attention from smarter buys. In fact, you’ll have another opportunity to score huge furniture savings on Presidents Day in February.
What Else To Buy in November
Just because Black Friday is at the end of the month doesn’t mean you have to wait until then. There are plenty of other smart November buys and ways to save. For example, you can shop one of the many early Black Friday sales that retailers are running the entire month, right up until Thanksgiving. Plus, there are plenty of smart buys to make in November based on seasonality.