How to survive and thrive on the biggest shopping day of the year.

By Claire Stern and Janaya Holmes
Updated Nov 19, 2020 @ 1:45 pm
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Even as the coronavirus pandemic has made everything in 2020 completely different, Black Friday is not canceled. While some of the bigger stores like Target and Walmart will be open on that day (with social distancing measures in place), many retailers will host deals much earlier than the day after Thanksgiving both online and in person. In fact, instead of announcing just one day of discounted prices, retailers will be adopting more accessible events ranging from multiple-day to month-long deals. 

So whether you're planning on hitting up some stores, or doing it all online you still need a plan – or a little bit of both, we tapped Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at digital savings site RetailMeNot, for her pro tips plus a few of our own.

1. Sign up for retailers' newsletters and follow them on social media.

Some retailers will have flash sales for a select number of hours. Sign up for their newsletters and follow them on Twitter and Instagram so you'll be the first to know about any special sales and exclusive promo codes. (You can always unsubscribe after the holidays.)

2. Set a budget.

Make a list of the people you're shopping for, what they want, and how much you're planning to spend on each so you don't go off the rails in the midst of your spree. The earlier you can get started, the more likely your favorite retailers will have the item in stock and you won't have to pay for expedited shipping if you're shopping online.

3. Employ a two-step shopping approach.

According to Skirboll, a little-known trick to score even more savings is twofold: Purchase a discount gift card for the retailer you plan to shop with and get savings of 10 percent or more, then combine the card with a promo code or digital rebate at checkout and—voilà—you've maximized your savings. Hint: Macy's, Best Buy, and JCPenney have some of the best deals.

4. Do your research.

Before you hit the ground running, comb the interwebs for what's on your shopping list in case they exist at a lower price somewhere else. Here are some examples:

Following their annual Prime Day, Amazon has unveiled its Black Friday plan, known as “Holiday Dash.” The sale, which began following Prime Day, will conclude on November 19. The retailer is expected to promote Black Friday deals after Holiday Dash. 

Amazon’s tech deals include 30% off Ring Video Doorbell 3, 15% off Apple watches, $89 off Apple iMac Display Monitor, 20% off Apple AirPods, $99 off 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro, $100 off TCL TVs, and more. 

Deals on clothing and accessories are up to 40% off.

Starting October 29 through November 1, Best Buy is featuring "Black Friday Ad Deals," which includes sales like $45 off Amazon Echo Show 5" Smart Display with Alexa, $90 off Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones, and $220 off Samsung 70" Class 6 Series LED 4K UHD Smart Tizen TV.   

Additionally, members of the electronic chain’s loyalty program are eligible for a Black Friday price guarantee. Their website explains, “If our price goes lower on any of the items below prior to November 28, 2020, we will send you a refund for the difference. Refunds valid for My Best Buy® members only.” 

Deals on cosmetics and skincare are up to 50% off.

The home improvement retailer announced their promo code: THANKSGIVING20 for 20% off select products. Customers can also save up to $120 on select appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. 

The accessories brand has announced a surprise sale, which ends November 14, of up to 75% on items like wallets, handbags and jewelry.

Deals on clothing are up to 40%.

The athletic apparel brand announced discounts of up to 52%.

Lowes’ “Cyber Steals”, a one-day online deal, will take place through December 2. Each day will provide different deals on appliances, home goods and more. 

Black Friday deals begin November 16, and on November 23 through November 28, new discounts will be revealed. The department store chain’s Sneak Peak countdown displays sales ranging from $5 Sedona & Cuisinart aluminum fry pans, $50 Hamilton Beach 4-qt stand mixers, 70% off designer luggage, and much more. 

Deals on select clothing are 40% with the code GOODBUY.

Deals on select women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing are up to 67% off. 

Deals on clothing are up to 60% off.

The renowned retailer is promoting deals up to 70% off.

Beauty Insiders can use the promo code: HOLIDAYFUN for up to 20% off on products from October 30 to November 9. 

Deals on clothing and intimates are up to 30% off. 

Target will be promoting Black Friday pricing and extended price match guarantee from November 1 to December 24. Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandise Officer Christina Hennington stated, “This year, in a holiday season unlike any other, we know it’s more important than ever for our guests to get great deals in a convenient and safe shopping environment. By kicking off our holiday deals earlier than ever, offering Black Friday pricing throughout the full month of November, and extending our Price Match Guarantee, we’re letting guests know they don’t need to wait or face the crowds to get the best deals, all with no membership fees required.”

Clothing and accessories are currently up to 40%.

Walmart’s current discounts include 35% off iRobot Roomba i7 Robot Vacuum, $60 off select computers and laptops, 45% off Philips Original Air Fryer, 30% off select TVs, and Instant Pots, and 20% off select Google products. The store’s Black Friday “Deals for Days” sales events begin November 4 and end November 27. 

Online deals including $99 Apple AirPods and $100 off Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum, start Wednesday, November 4. On Wednesday, November 11, deals including TCL 55-inch Class 4K UHD Roku Smart TV for $148, Shop Lenovo IdeaPad 3 at $149, and up to $200 off Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. 

The online home store company is currently holding pre-Black Friday deals like 60% off select vacuums and cookware, and up to $300 off select kitchen appliances. 

The retailer has deals up to 35% on women and children’s clothing and accessories, and 25% off on men’s clothing and accessories. 

5. Shop from the back of the store first if you're going in person.

That way, you avoid the hordes of people and work your way toward the checkout line and exit. Plus, by going the opposite way of the crowd, you move quicker and have first dibs on some items.

6. Prioritize electronics; avoid toys and golf gear.

"Electronics will sell out the fastest on Black Friday," says Skirboll. "So if you see a good deal on TVs, computers, or phones, pick it up immediately." Conversely, hold off on purchasing toys and golf clubs because you'll see the most drastic discounts in the days leading up to Christmas.

7. Double down on freebies.

If stores offer a free gift with purchase, get them while supplies last. You can always use that item as a gift for someone lower down on your list.

8. Read before you buy.

Be keenly aware of store policies on returns, especially during the holidays. Make sure you read the fine print on larger items and gifts for others. Always ask for a gift receipt to ease the process in the event your gift needs to be returned or exchanged.