If standing in an enormous crowd at Walmart to get the best Black Friday deals gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. Last year in 2020, thanks to the pandemic, Black Friday in-store shopping differed completely from 2019. Some stores adjusted in-store shopping hours, and Black Friday may have changed forever. Will stores even offer specific deals you can only get in person? The jury’s still out, but we’ll let you know as soon as we hear about any unexpected changes.
In the meantime, it’s crucial to have a game plan that includes mastering online shopping so you can get great deals on gifts for your people.
1. Get Black Friday online deals sooner than Friday.
Some stores (looking at you, Walmart) still had a couple of Doorbusters only available if you showed up on Black Friday, but you could get the bulk of their Black Friday offerings and Doorbusters early and online.
2. Start shopping after Halloween this year, or even sooner.
Every year, more retailers release online deals sooner. This began with Amazon offering Lightning Deals starting mid-November years ago, and soon Kohl’s followed suit, offering deals a whole week before Black Friday. The year after that, we saw Target jump on the bandwagon.
In 2021, Target Deal Days is returning for three days: October 10-12. Expect to see price drops on TVs, video games, kitchen appliances and more.
And of course Amazon is in on the October action. They’ve already released a variety of epic deals, including discounts on Apple Airpods, TVs, and tablets.
Read more about holiday deals in October.
3. Shop on Thanksgiving for the best Walmart Black Friday online deals.
This goes for most stores that offer online deals! Thanksgiving is actually the best day to shop online.
Store online sales usually begin earlier than in-store Black Friday deals. For instance, in 2020, Walmart launched a Black Friday For Days event with both in-store and online sales starting in early November.
This year will be even weirder because many retailers, including Walmart, Target, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, and Best Buy, won’t be open at all on Thanksgiving. (These retailers will offer online deals on Thanksgiving, and we will, of course, keep you posted about that once we know!)
Here’s what to expect for online Black Friday deals this year from specific retailers. Stores that haven’t yet announced their plans are listed with what they did last year.
- Amazon: Monday, October 26, 2020 3:00 AM ET
- Kohl’s: Thanksgiving 2020, 12:01 AM ET
- Macy’s: Tuesday, November 24, 2020 12:01 AM ET
- Best Buy: Thanksgiving 2020, 1:00 AM ET
- JCPenney: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 1:00 AM ET
- Target: Thanksgiving 2020, 3:00 AM ET
4. Be ready to shop as soon as Black Friday sales online start.
In-store shoppers only have to compete with locals for deals. However, when you shop online, you’re competing on a nationwide level.
So you’re gonna have to step up your game.
Setting your alarm 10 minutes before a sale begins is a solid start. And hey, if that 12 a.m. wake-up makes you cringe, just remember you can shop the best deals right from your bed — no pants needed!
5. Bookmark product pages ahead of time.
Get first dibs on the items you have your eye on by bookmarking web pages. Then, as soon as the sale begins, head to that page with just one click.
6. Or, use different browser tabs for each store.
Toggle between the best store deals like a boss. Set up store browser tabs beforehand and just refresh when the deals start.
7. Clear your cookies and go incognito to avoid markups on websites you shop.
Have you ever heard the term “dynamic pricing”? In theory, it’s the idea that pricing is based on market ebbs and flows. For example, airline prices are based on dynamic pricing and they change frequently.
Unfortunately, retailers also use it on consumers who frequent their websites, assuming someone who buys a lot from them will buy no matter the price. Which means you could get punished for being a loyal customer.
Just clear your cookies, and next, open an incognito window to do your shopping.
This should make it so the retailer thinks you’re a first-time buyer and will offer you better prices.
8. Use Price Grabber and Google Shopping to ensure you’re actually getting a good deal.
Use Price Grabber and Google Shopping to help you compare prices across the internet on pretty much any product within seconds. Make sure you go incognito for these as well, so you know you’re not seeing inflated pricing.
Checking prices can also help you determine how much of a discount you’re actually getting. If a Black Friday sale price isn’t that much different from the regular cost of an item, save your dollars for a better deal.
9. Keep an Amazon tab on your browser solely for checking reviews.
Amazon is a jungle packed with products — it has pretty much everything. Use this fact to your advantage by looking up reviews, specs, and related deals on items you’re shopping at other sites.
10. And then bookmark Fakespot.com to make sure Amazon reviews are honest.
Amazon reviews are definitely helpful, but did you know that some of them are considered “deceptive,” meaning the person reviewing was compensated for a review? Or maybe it was a bot that “wrote” the review — not a real person?
Fakespot cuts through all of that and gives each Amazon URL a “grade” — A through F — A for reliable reviews from actual people, on down to F for completely unreliable.
Just copy and paste the URL for your Amazon item into Fakespot and away you go!
11. Start an Amazon Prime free trial on November 20th.
This will give you ample time to shop all the Lightning Deals (deeply discounted items that Prime members get early access to). Lightning Deals are only available for a very limited time or until sold out, so this way you can take advantage of Prime’s free two-day shipping before Christmas.
Sign up for a 30 day free Amazon trial now.
12. Use an online inventory tracker to be the first to know when an item is back in stock.
Inventory trackers like zooLert allow you to track inventory by product or by store. Let’s say you’re looking for the LEGO Hogwarts Castle, but it’s sold out everywhere. Just check the box indicating you want to hear an alarm for this item, and leave that window open on your computer. zooLert updates every minute, and when one comes back in stock, you’ll hear an alert.
If you want to search by store, you’ll need the DCPI number, but many websites, like Target, show that number online when you look at the details for the item. Enter that number and you’ll see whether the store has the item in stock.
13. Check CamelCamelCamel.com to find out if Amazon prices are lower than average.
CamelCamelCamel.com monitors the price of millions of products on Amazon. Use the price history it provides to help you determine whether that Black Friday deal you’ve been eyeing is actually a good deal or if it’s best to wait for a better price later.
For example, say you see an awesome deal on a PlayStation 5 this Black Friday. Drop the Amazon link on CamelCamelCamel.com, and it’ll pull up the price history, revealing when Amazon sold its cheapest, highest, and current price. Based on that info, wait…or go for it.
14. Look for free curbside pickup options to avoid shipping fees.
One silver lining of COVID-19 is that most stores have innovated enough to offer in-store pickup at least, and many even offer curbside pickup. Even better? Top Black Friday stores like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s and more offer contactless curbside pickup where you don’t even have to get out of your car.
15. Prevent stolen packages by signing up for UPS My Choice and Amazon shipment updates via text.
Get Amazon updates sent directly to your phone every time your Amazon package leaves the warehouse and again as soon as it’s delivered.
Or, sign up for UPS My Choice, a free service that lets you control how you want packages delivered. With My Choice, they will alert you when something is about to be delivered via UPS, but you’ll also be able to customize “leave at” instructions for the delivery person. You’ll be given the option to have your package delivered to a pickup location versus a home address as well.
16. Put Black Friday deal items in your online shopping cart a week before sales start.
Of course, this works for any store, and I’d do it for every store I plan to shop at if I were you. Study your stores’ leaked ads, and add items you know will go on sale to your online shopping cart. While you’re at it, make sure your shipping address is up to date, and if you feel comfortable, add your payment information.
Then, abandon your cart, and when deals go live, head back to the retailer and you should see updated sale prices. From there, all you have to do is complete your transaction.
17. Shop Kohl’s online Black Friday for the same Doorbusters you could get in store.
Kohl’s Black Friday deals and Doorbusters were all available online in 2020. Doorbusters are even available earlier online than they’re available in store.
Typically, stores only offer their “Doorbusters” or “Special Buys” inside the stores. In the past, this move has driven foot traffic into brick-and-mortar stores, where statistically, buyers make more purchases than they planned to make, benefitting retailers, of course.
This year, retailers may try to avoid crowds of people because of the pandemic, so I predict we will see even more doorbuster deals available online. Prove me wrong, Walmart!
18. Don’t forget about daily deal sites like Groupon.
Groupon sells a variety of items reaching up to 65% off on Black Friday — but you have to snag these deals as soon as they become available, because they sell out fast. (In 2020, sales went live at 12:00 a.m. Friday on Groupon.)
In 2020, I saw Instax Fujifilm cameras for $79.99 (reg. $99.99).
19. Create a separate Facebook or Instagram account just for following retailers.
If you don’t want your regular newsfeed cluttered with consumer updates, consider creating a separate social media account, and follow all your favorite retailers, airlines, brands, and deal sites (HINT: like The Krazy Coupon Lady) for sale updates and exclusive promo codes.
20. Sign up for loyalty programs in advance.
If you’re not already a member of free store loyalty programs, sign up for them immediately.
You’ll get exclusive savings and early bird alerts just for signing up.
One of my faves is Kohl’s Rewards. Get 5% Kohl’s Rewards on every purchase you make. Once your earnings reach $5, you’ll receive a $5 Kohl’s Cash certificate.
For the past handful of years, rewards members received $15 in Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent Monday—Saturday the week of Thanksgiving. You seriously cannot beat that.
21. Shop sites that always have free shipping — and free returns.
Speaking of free shipping, shop retailers that will send you your purchase for free, no matter how little you spend.
Make sure you check on return policies, though. A lot of stores may charge you a restocking fee or postage for returned items. Avoid those retailers.
These stores always offer free shipping and free returns:
- Kate Spade
- Neiman Marcus
- Walmart (free 2-day shipping on eligible $35 and up orders)
- Home Depot (on eligible items)
22. Purchase most-wanted items individually if a site offers free shipping.
On free-shipping websites, complete orders for the items you want first, and then continue browsing for items you’re just thinking about. Do this and you won’t have to worry about your product selling out while you’re shopping for other deals.
23. Stack on even more savings with discounted e-gift cards.
You’ve gotta buy them ahead of time, though (like right now). This way, all you have to worry about is finding deals and completing online orders.
Sites like Raise buy legit, unwanted gift cards from consumers and businesses and sell them back to shoppers at a discounted rate. For instance, you might find a Gap e-gift card worth its face value of $100 for just $90 and use it in store or online.
Here are the savings you may get at popular retailers when you use a discounted gift card to make your purchase:
- Bath & Body Works: 6.08% off
- GAP: 12.76% off (may use at any GAP store, Banana Republic, Athleta, or Old Navy)
- JCPenney: 1%
- Kohl’s: 4% off
- Macy’s: 3% off
- Michaels: 7.96% off
- Walmart: 1.5% off
24. Create your own deal with flat percentage-off or dollar-off coupon codes.
Retailers like Kohl’s, Gap, Old Navy, Carter’s, Express, and Rue21 like to discount everything in their stores on Black Friday. To save even more during these sales, search for coupon codes that offer flat percentage-off (like “an extra 20% off with ___ code”) or dollar-off (like “$10 off your order with ___”) offers, and stack sale savings with coupons!
Often retailers will include discount codes on paper in-store coupons you can use on the internet, so keep your eyes peeled even when you’re offline.
25. Shop Target’s Black Friday sale 2021 with your RedCard for an extra 5% off.
If you like free shipping, extended return windows, early access to deals, and an extra 5% off purchases, then seriously consider getting a RedCard — you get these perks all year long — not just on Black Friday.
26. Get food freebies and deals delivered to you with DoorDash.
TVs, toys, and apparel aren’t the only things on Black Friday super sale. You’ll find plenty of dining deals too, which will come in handy when you’re not feelin’ the leftover turkey in your fridge.
Some retailers offer gift cards for food delivery and your favorite restaurants for a discount. In 2020, for example, Best Buy sold $50 gift cards for Door Dash for just $40 for a 20% savings!
Don’t worry if you’re not up for leaving the house; DoorDash will deliver food to you 24/7 starting at around $1.
27. Book flights for next year’s family vacation on Cyber Monday.
With air travel operating domestically and lessened restrictions for overseas travel, flights may be a good buy this Black Friday. In 2020, we found Alaska Airlines offering $29 flights along with $39 flights on Southwest on Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday.
Check these airlines’ social media pages for pop-up sales Thanksgiving week through Travel Tuesday, and make reservations quickly before they sell out!
28. Shop through Rakuten to earn cash back on every online purchase.
Just in case you’re not familiar, Rakuten is a site that earns a commission from retailers every time they send customers their way. When you use Rakuten’s retailer links to shop, they’ll share a portion of their commission with you. It’s an incredibly easy way to add an extra layer of savings!
While cashback amounts can fluctuate from time to time, currently Rakuten is offering up to 6% at Walmart (certain categories only), 10% at Macy’s, 6% on Groupon, and 5% from QVC.
Look for Double Cash Back offers that appear every so often, and consider installing the Google Chrome browser extension so you can get reminders and notifications when you’re shopping online. It will also display coupon codes, if available, and any cashback amount offers.
29. Look for free shipping at Target.
I mean, you could just get this perk all year long as a RedCard holder, but it’s pretty darn cool Target offered free shipping to everyone with no minimums in 2019. While we didn’t see this in 2020, we are crossing our fingers that this perk returns for 2021.
30. Start shopping for video games… before Black Friday.
As we get closer to Black Friday and the year-end, popular games that were released in the beginning of the year, like Forza Horizon 4 and the other big games, end up being dropped to half their price during Black Friday. These price drops sometimes appear as early as the beginning of November — well before Black Friday. However, Forza Horizon 4 is already half its price on Amazon, and it could be dropped even lower before holiday rushes.
Video game consoles are slightly different. Nintendo Switch is coming out with a new console version this year in October. You’ll want to check back for deals on Black Friday for this hot ticket item. With it being brand new, though, we expect bigger and better deals on some of the original Nintendo Switch products.
Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon are all stocked up on PS5 and X-Box Series X because of the new Call of Duty Vanguard game coming out on November 5, 2021. With this hot release, we expect some deals on accessories and controllers around the release date to generate some buzz, but not any big Black Friday deals.
31. Have a game plan for Bath & Body Works.
Last year Bath and Body Works released their Black Friday sale details the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and had an online sale and an in-person store event. The online bonanza started on Thanksgiving itself. Each year Bath and Body Works slightly changes the sale, event, and details, so expect some wrenches thrown in if you’re familiar with previous versions. We tried our hand at predictions here! The important part is to strategize to maximize your savings.
- Have coupons available when you online shop.
- Know what scents you want ahead of time. Usually, they have an online tote or box as their major sale. Join their Rewards Program ahead of time.
- Sign up for our text reminders! If you want in on our free Bath & Body Works alerts, text “BBW” to +1 (208) 266-4466 and be the first to know about the hottest deals each day, like reminders of the Bath & Body Works Black Friday Sale and more.
32. Look for more deals online on December 14th: Free Shipping Day.
Cyber Monday isn’t the last big day before Christmas to score great online deals.
That would be December, 14 — a.k.a. Free Shipping Day. That’s when hundreds of online retailers (especially apparel and shoe retailers) offer deep discounts and coupon codes hoping to capture all the last-minute shoppers who need packages delivered by Christmas.
At Krazy Coupon Lady, we will keep you informed of all the best deals between now and New Year’s, so stay tuned!