14 March 2021 (updated)

Shop 'til You Drop: What Is Black Friday and How to Shop It

You've probably been seeing the Black Friday 2020 ads popping up in your inbox all month long. But what exactly is Black Friday? And what are some of the best ways to shop this crazy day? Fear not, we're here to help you find the best deals, and which stores you'd like to shop. Here are some Black Friday basics, and tips for keeping your sanity while getting great deals.

What Is Black Friday?

Who doesn't like some good discount shopping?! I definitely do! And Black Friday offers some of the best deals around- whether you're shopping a Walmart Black Friday, or at a more specialized local retailer.

The name "Black Friday" dates back to the early 1950s and referred to the extra traffic and chaos around the busy Christmas shopping season. All of the bustling shoppers between Thanksgiving and Christmas caused the streets to be especially black. By the 1980s, the connotation became more associated with the time many stores start to be "in the black" after finally achieving profitability due to their high volume of sales for the day.

Black Friday and Beyond

Black Friday officially starts the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, though many stores open midnight after Thanksgiving (or even on Thanksgiving day) to lure in extra shoppers. Some stores even start their Black Friday deals much earlier in November to attract customers and get ahead of the competition!

Other stores use it as a jumping-off point to many other sales and savings. The next day, you have Small Business Saturday, followed by Cyber Monday, and even Giving Tuesday - provided you haven't already blown your budget on gifts! And yes, a retailer with a Cyber Monday sale will be just as enthusiastic encouraging you to spend as much money as possible as early as possible.

Some major retailers offer a different Deal of the Day that extends for the weeks up until Christmas. You can do your online shopping with extra perks like free shipping and deep discounts. So you might not get the absolute best deal on the actual Black Friday.

2020 Virtual Black Friday

This year, it's likely that most Black Friday deals will be online in order to prevent massive crowds in stores. If you can shop online, please do. Please practice safe, socially-distant shopping habits, ALWAYS properly wear a mask in public, and wash your hands!

Many big-name stores have announced they will stay closed on Thanksgiving to reduce the crowds. These include Target, Walmart, Bath & Body Works, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, REI, GameStop, Macy’s, Ulta, JCPenney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Office Depot/OfficeMax, and Sam’s Club.

What will you see more of this year? With spending so much more time at home, retailers are promoting discounts on stay-at-home and staples like loungewear, athleisure, and outdoor activity basics like bicycles, sporting goods, grills, fire pits, and fitness equipment.

black friday

Black Friday Deals and Doorbusters

Many big stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target will have some Black Friday deals on anything like Apple AirPods, to tableware, to 43-inch flat-screen TV deals, and more! For those who like the sport of shopping (and like all sports, shopping can get competitive), this is your day!

Remember, there are only limited quantities of the most deeply discounted items. So you might have to act early and act fast to get the best deals.

Here are some suggestions for the best deals:

-Amazon is offering its "Holiday Dash" deals from now through Nov. 19. This offers early deals on home goods, fashion, toys, tech, and more. Don’t forget to check out the “Epic Daily Deals” every day.

-Lowe's is has a season of savings from Oct. 22 through December. With all this extra time at home, home improvement is a new hobby for many of us. Lowe’s is offering deals on all the essentials to make your home a little cozier.

-Macy's is allowing online shoppers to view its Black Friday deals starting Oct. 27, and many are available for purchase starting in early November.

-Walmart has three “Deals for Days” Black Friday shopping events beginning Nov. 4 through Nov. 27. Check for great deals on cellphone deals and tires.

General Black Friday 2020 Tips

  • Make a list, and check it twice.- Have a clear list of the people on your Christmas list
  • Make a budget and stick to it.- NO deal is a good deal if it causes you to go into debt in the process. You (and your friends and family) will be much happier with no gifts and your financial solvency than an over-the-top holiday present.
  • Do your research.- It can be SO HARD to resist the bright, shiny sales, but a lot of times, the sales that seem too good to be true are, in fact, not really a great deal. Websites like Lifehacker also offer good tips.
  • Look for extra coupons.- You might even be able to find deeper savings on items if you do extra research. Even a simple google search like the product/store you want with "coupon" might turn up some good results. Websites like Topcashback are another great way to get cash back on various online purchases.
  • Beware of "free" gifts.- Some free products are great bonuses. But a lot of times, the gift with purchase is just a gimmick to entice you to get more.
  • Your time is a valuable resource.- Your quality time is worth a lot! Don't spend so much time scouring all the stores or spending time online that you miss out on what's really important.
  • Quality matters. You are much better off investing in a few quality items than loading up on items that are going to be given away sooner than later.
  • Don't neglect Thanksgiving.- Family moments and memories are far more valuable than any savings you'll get trying to find the right Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale. Don't be so focused on your favorite retailer that you miss the most important parts of the holiday season.

What Is the Reason for the Season (Hint: It's Not Black Friday Shopping!)

Black Friday can be a fun shopping day, but keep all things in perspective. Little things, like spending quality time with your loved ones over the holiday are far better than the latest trinket. As great this Black Friday 2020 can be, don't lose track of the bigger picture of the holidays. There will always be another retailer offering rock-bottom deals on your favorite products. But those special times with your family during Thanksgiving are priceless!



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