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What's worth buying on Black Friday (and what to skip), according to experts

Experts share tips for finding the best deals and saving the most money during Black Friday sales, which have already begun.
A middle-aged asian woman in blue jeans sitting on the bed in a yoga pose in front of a laptop. Remote work at home. Online shopping in quarantine period
Black Friday 2022 officially takes place Nov. 25, but retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon and more have already begun their sales.Fiordaliso / Getty Images

Black Friday is finally here, but the shopping holiday is not just a 24-hour event anymore. Black Friday has turned into Black November, a month of doorbuster sales and deals that often begins as early as October, said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights for the National Retail Foundation, or NRF. This is why we’ve been updating you about sales and deals from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and more for the past few weeks, and will continue to do so as Black Friday offerings turn into Cyber Monday promotions over the next few days.

SKIP AHEAD Black Friday 2021 bestsellers | When do sales start? | How long do sales last? | Expert shopping tips

Since there are so many sales and deals to browse right now, you may be wondering if you should take advantage of current savings opportunities or wait until Cyber Monday. To answer that question and more, we asked experts for their advice about what to buy and what to skip during Black Friday. We also rounded up a handful of other tips to help you make the most out of the sale event.

What to buy on Black Friday and what can wait

Nearly every retailer and service industry participates in sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so products across all categories will be discounted. But that doesn't mean every deal is a good one.

Typically, some of the best deals on Black Friday include those on home items, toys, electronics and games, said Vipin Porwal, founder and consumer savings expert at browser cashback extension Smarty. You’ll also see strong discounts on the technology, hardware and gear that those who work from home may be looking for to add to their office spaces, as well as items for metaverse participants like virtual reality headsets and gaming consoles.

Because shoppers are often looking to buy gifts during Black Friday, luxury goods across fashion and beauty are usually on sale, as well as pricier eco-friendly products that are “coveted” gifts, Porwal said.

If you don’t need them immediately, Porwal suggested waiting to buy large appliances, mattresses and furniture until sale holidays like President’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Most brands in those product categories put more items on sale during other sales events, giving you more options to compare, he explained.

Black Friday 2021 bestsellers

During 2021, Adobe Analytics said some of the most-purchased Black Friday items were the Nintendo Switch, the Oculus VR headset and Barbie products, so keep your eye on these and related items in categories like tech and toys. We also rounded up a handful of best selling products according to Select readers in 2021, some of which we listed below in case you’re wondering what types of items you can expect to see on sale starting now.

Apple AirPods Pro (1st Gen)

The first generation of Apple’s AirPods Pro still rank among the best wireless earbuds, and for good reason: They offer active noise cancellation to block out sounds, although you can also use them in transparency mode to hear what’s happening around you.

Oral-B Pro Crossaction 1000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

This rechargeable toothbrush is one of the best options you can buy according to dentists; it even earned the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. It’s equipped with pressure sensors that tell you if you’re brushing too hard, Oral-B says, as well as a timer that buzzes every 30 seconds to let you know when it’s time to brush a new part of your mouth.

Ninja Foodi 8-qt. 12-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer

You can choose from 12 cooking functions with this Ninja countertop appliance, including air-fry, pressure-cook, steam, bake, sous vide and more. It comes with a 8-quart pot and a 5-quart cook-and-crisp basket, as well as a steamer rack.

AeroGarden Harvest Elite

The AeroGarden Harvest Elite allows you to grow up to six different plants at once, such as herbs, flowers, lettuce and more. The indoor gardening system has a digital display control panel that tells you when to add food or water, according to the brand, and it’s built with LED lights that automatically turn on and off to simulate sunlight.

AncestryDNA + Traits Testing Kit

Ancestry’s DNA + Traits Testing Kit comes with all the supplies you need to collect a saliva sample and send your swab to the brand’s lab. Your sample is then tested to determine your ethnicity origins and traits that may influence your appearance and health, like hair color, cilantro aversion, endurance fitness and more.

When do Black Friday 2022 sales start?

Black Friday falls on Nov. 25 this year and deals are currently live across many retailers’ websites. You’ll find lots of Black Friday sales happening in stores, too.

Because so many retailers kicked off their Black Friday sales early, some are offering special price-match policies to ensure early shoppers get the best possible deal during the holiday shopping season. (Target, for instance, even shares a list of competitive retailers it’s willing to price-match.) To learn how to take advantage of price matching, you can often find instructions in the FAQs section of a retailers’ website —price matching usually involves showing proof of the price you want to match and requesting a price match at checkout in stores or calling customer service if you’re shopping online.

Additionally, if you buy a product during an early Black Friday sale and it drops to an even lower price later in the season, some retailers honor that lower price with post-purchase price matching. The same goes for products that are discounted further after you get them on Black Friday. Be aware that every retailer has different policies on price matching, so do your research if you plan to take advantage of offerings.

How long do Black Friday sales last?

Just because today is officially Black Friday doesn't mean deals end at midnight. Experts said we’ll continue to see sales all weekend long and through Cyber Monday. Some deals even extend through Cyber Week, which refers to the week following Cyber Monday. Many of retailers’ offerings will be similar to those on Black Friday, however. With that being said, experts do not recommend waiting to make your purchases. If you find a deal you’re interested in, take advantage of it now before products begin to sell out.

How to find the best deals and save money during Black Friday

Finding the best deals will help you save money during Black Friday. Below are a handful of tips experts recommend keeping in mind as you prepare to shop Black Friday sales.

  • Make a shopping list and stick to it. This allows you to prioritize what products you’re looking for and can help you avoid impulse purchases, especially if you are trying to shop within a set budget.
  • Consider shopping brands you may not be familiar with. If you’re looking for a specific item from a specific brand, you probably won’t want to compromise. Experts suggested finding a handful of models that meet your qualifications — regardless of the brand — and comparing their prices before adding one to your cart. If you don’t limit yourself to only one brand (or only brands you’re familiar with), you’ll have a wider assortment of deals to browse.
  • Weigh different payment options. Some credit cards offer cash back and rewards points at specific retailers — for example, shopping at Amazon or Walmart with their specific credit cards gets you a certain amount back every time you shop if you’re an Amazon Prime or Walmart+ member. Credit cards may even offer bonus promotions during the holiday shopping season, including on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Select’s money experts will keep you updated on these as they’re announced. Additionally, if you’re looking for ways to finance a larger purchase, buy now, pay later apps may be of interest.
  • Use price trackers and browser extensions. Some, like Honey and Cently, can automatically apply coupon codes to your cart at checkout. Other tools like PriceBlink allow you to compare prices across multiple retailers, and others — including Amazon Assistant and Karma browser extension — monitor prices and alert you when they drop for products you’re interested in.
  • Research retailers’ price match guarantee policies. Some retailers allow you to notify them of a lower price at another competitor and will match that price. But before participating in a price match program, be sure to read about any exceptions. For example, some retailers only price match for certain competitors and others won’t price match competitors’ special Black Friday pricing.
  • Pay attention to return policies. Retailers’ standard return policies may not apply to purchases made during Black Friday and other big sale events. Make sure you’re aware of return policies before you buy an item, especially if it’s something you’ll need to try on like clothes or shoes.

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