The release of Black Friday sales happens earlier and earlier each year as major retailers including Walmart and Macy’s have already shared their deals.
Walmart’s Black Friday Deals for Days kicked off Nov. 3 with deals like a 55-in TCL 4K Roku TV for $228 and the Keurig K-Compact for $35. Meanwhile, Macy’s announced early access to their Black Friday sale starting Nov. 3 with deep discounts on select kitchen gadgets, clothing, jewelry and bedding.
Between the hype of these early doorbuster sales and growing concerns over limited inventory and shipping delays, even the most cost-conscious consumers can get caught up in the holiday shopping frenzy and blow their budgets. But before you bite at these pre-season sales, know this–not everything will sell out early and some items may actually get cheaper if you wait to buy them.
To help navigate these overwhelming sales, I’ve put together a list of 5 Black Friday shopping strategies:
Be smart about what you buy now and what to buy later.
There are some holiday gifts like popular video game consoles and sought-after toys that will sell out fast, but there are plenty of items you can wait to buy.
Thanks to a microchip shortage, manufacturers of popular electronics such a video game consoles as well as some household appliances and even cars that use computer chips are unable to keep up with growing demand so scooping up these items when you see them in stock makes sense. But those who are flexible on what they give when it comes to clothing, jewelry, beauty and home goods are better off waiting for bigger discounts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday when stores are likely to offer coupons on top of site-wide or product sales.
Track discounts and price drops.
A recent survey from Numerator found that over 78 percent of consumers are concerned about product shortages impacting holiday shopping which can lead to panic buying and missed savings. Avoid this by using savings tools like Cently which automatically applies coupon codes and even cashback to your online order and PriceBlink which pinpoints the cheapest buying option across multiple retailers instantly. You can even set sale alerts on your gift list through Amazon Assistant.
Use retail sites to find local in-stock options.
Though shopping in person seems like the best way to avoid shipping delays, there’s no guarantee the location you choose will have your item in stock. Instead, use retail sites to find in-stock options nearby. This strategy will help you pinpoint which local retailer has plenty of inventory even if it means driving to another town. For merchandise that says only 1 or 2 in are stock, place the order promptly and choose in-store or curbside pick up so customer service pulls it from the store shelf before another shopper has a chance to grab it.
Study up on new retail policies.
Target’s new Holiday Price Match Guarantee says you can get a price adjustment on anything you buy starting on Oct. 10 if it goes on sale anytime through Dec. 24. Meanwhile, Best Buy’s “Black Friday Price Guarantee” ensures early deals are as good as they get by promising to refund the price difference if one of their doorbusters drops in price further between now and Nov. 26.
But unless you’re tracking prices daily, you can easily overlook a price drop and miss out on a refund. Luckily, browser extensions like Karma monitor product prices for you. Just create a list of products you want the tool to track and it will alert you in the event they detect a price drop.
Keep an eye on shipments.
Just because you buy a gift during an early Black Friday sale doesn’t guarantee on-time arrival for your holiday celebration. Mounting supply chain disruptions and trucker shortages could lead to severe delays this season. Stay on top of your orders using parcel tracking apps like Deliveries which monitors online deliveries through carriers such as UPS, DHL, USPS, FedEx and more.
Through the app, you can track packages on Google Maps so you know if it’s going to make it to the final destination on time for the holiday. Otherwise, you could grab a backup gift or send a digital gift to a loved one instead.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-savings expert, writer and frequent on-air contributor who is passionate about helping families find simple ways to spend less and save more. Andrea has appeared on popular shows like Today, Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News. Her advice and articles have been featured in New York Times, Time, Money, Forbes and Real Simple.