The 10 Best Black Friday Tips to Score the Best Deals

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Black Friday 2021 has already started! An expert gives the best Black Friday tips to shop smart this season and get the hottest deals.

1. Start Black Friday Shopping Early

Technically, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving; but to really score the best deals — don’t even think about waiting that long. Our most important advice this year: start shopping early! Black Friday deals always sell out quickly, but in 2021 there are even more shopping challenges including shortages in some products (like gaming consoles), supply chain issues, higher shipping costs and longer delivery times. The sooner you can buy, the better.

The good news is you don’t have to choose between getting a head start on shopping or snagging Black Friday prices. Black Friday is less like a one-day sale and more like a month-long event. Some stores have already started their Black Friday promotions. Amazon announced Black-Friday worthy deals in the beginning of October (with more to come); and Walmart will spread out its Black Friday Deals for Days to three events throughout November, starting Nov. 3.

2. Prioritize Online Shopping (and Skip the Lines)

Waiting in long lines before the crack of dawn on Black Friday morning is becoming a thing of the past. Most retailers offer the same promotions online that you’ll see in stores (and you won’t have to shove through crowds to get what you want). Take advantage of free delivery options and ship-to-store offers while you browse the deals. Shopping online might even give you early access. For example, Walmart’s online sale starts Nov. 3, but for in-store deals you’ll have to wait until Nov. 5.

3. Sign Up For Store E-Mails

We know you don’t need another retail email or newsletter clogging up your inbox. But this year, being informed about when a sale starts is essential to scoring the deals you want. Blackfriday.com shopping expert, Kristin McGrath says, “One of the best ways to prepare for the biggest shopping day of the year is to sign up for the best retailer mailing lists before Black Friday. Signing up early is key because the Black Friday online sales start earlier each year. These lists will deliver the best deals straight to your inbox.”

Besides getting the first word on discounts and coupons, you may also snag a coupon for your first post-signup purchase. And if your Black Friday shopping destinations offer a loyalty or rewards program, be sure to enroll. Being a member typically means perks, which may include early access, extra savings and free shipping.

Don’t forget to sign up for The Family Handyman Stuff We Love newsletter for our favorite Black Friday sales picks and shopping updates. Our editors are keeping close track of tools, tech, home, garden and DIY sales.

4. Use Apps

If you don’t already have your favorite stores’ apps on your phone, download them before Black Friday. Top retailers like Amazon, Target, Kohl’s and Walmart have their own shopping apps. The apps keep track of your coupons and rewards points, and send notifications for the newest deals. The Target app gives you early access to their weekly ad, which means you’ll be the first to know when the Black Friday ad drops.

In addition to retailer apps, there are shopping assistant apps to help you decide if a Black Friday deal is really a steal (some of them are more hype than savings). Price comparison apps like ShopSavvy and Barcode Scanner allow you to compare prices of thousands of stores instantly simply by scanning the QR code with your phone camera. You can also save your favorite items and get alerted when there is a price drop.

5. Check Social Media

Be sure to follow your favorite retailers on their social channels. Many stores reward Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers with additional discounts. You’ll also be the first to know about last-minute flash sales, as well as special followers-only offers and discount codes.

6. Act Fast on Hot Items

Even though connecting with retailers through emails, apps and social media may seem like overkill, with the unique 2021 supply chain challenges, it might be the only way to ensure you get those fast-selling items this year. McGrath says, “Shoppers need to carefully watch retailers’ communications about their holiday and Black Friday sales. They need to make note of when exactly (down to the second) a retailer’s sale begins and have those pages pulled up online, or items added to their cart the moment the sale price goes live. Otherwise, they risk the item selling out.”

7. Start with Dependable Black Friday Retailers

As Black Friday draws closer you’ll see sales promotions pop up everywhere you’ve ever shopped, and it can be overwhelming. McGrath suggests starting with the retailers known for the best online Black Friday Deals including Kohl’s, The Home Depot, Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s, Target and Walmart to name a few.

Keep a close eye on these stores in the coming weeks. We mentioned Amazon and Walmart’s early sales, and Kohl’s is running a “Lowest Prices of the Season” promotion where you can save on electronics, home decor, clothing and more from Oct. 20-24. Best Buy is getting an early start as well, with discounted prices launched on Oct. 18. To ensure you get the best Black Friday price, look for items marked with “Black Friday Price Guarantee.”

8. Research Big Ticket Items

If you’re looking to score a big ticket item like an outdoor TV, computer or kitchen appliance, start researching now. Learn the average prices for the things on your shopping list so you can identify a deal when you see one.

9. Be Smart about In-Store Shopping

If you do venture to the stores on Black Friday, keep it simple and safe. Bodge says, “I suggest focusing on a couple key retailers where you can get a lot of your shopping done. Fewer retailers equals fewer lines to tolerate. Curbside pickup is also an option. You still might wait in line, but at least you’ll be in your car.” And remember some stores might be practicing social distancing, so be mindful of posted signs and marked distances in lines.

10. Use Store Maps

Some major retailers, like Walmart and Target provide store maps identifying where to find specific Black Friday deals inside the store, available on their websites and/or apps. Use these maps to plan your exact shopping route before the big day arrives. You’ll save time in-store, leaving you with more deal-hunting time elsewhere.

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Erica Young
Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.