If standing in a huge crowd at Walmart to get the best Black Friday deals gives you anxiety, you’re not alone.
Not only that, but thanks to the pandemic, Black Friday in-store shopping could look completely different than last year. Will stores even offer specific deals you can only get in person? 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. Heaven knows 2020 is the one year we need nice things, so please don’t take away our holiday gifts, Universe!
1. Get Black Friday online deals sooner than Friday.
Some stores (looking at you, Walmart), still had a couple 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.
It’s as if retailers won’t be outdone by each other. And in 2020, Target and Amazon have started their holiday deals in October (Prime day Oct. 13!) Other retailers kicked it off around Oct. 10 (singles day). I feel like this will keep going through Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday, both days that I saw deals happening in 2019.
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 2019 Walmart’s in-store sales didn’t start until 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening. Their online deals, however, went live at midnight on Thanksgiving Day.
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 and (2019) after it.
- Kohl’s: 12:00 a.m. CST Monday (2019)
- Macy’s: 12:00 a.m. PST Tuesday
- Best Buy: 1 a.m. EST Thanksgiving (2019)
- JCPenney: 1 a.m. CST Wednesday (2019)
- Target: 3:00 a.m. EST Thanksgiving (2019)
- Walmart: 12:00 a.m. PST Thanksgiving (2019)
- Victoria’s Secret: 10:00 p.m. EST Wednesday (2019)
- Old Navy: 12:01 a.m. EST Thanksgiving (2019)
4. Be ready to shop as soon as Black Friday sales online starts.
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 eyes on by bookmarking or favoriting webpages. 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 be getting 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 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 than 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 real 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 2-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 it cheapest, highest, and its current price. Based on that info, you may want to 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.
Other retailers will even give you a coupon if you choose store pickup (like Famous Footwear — they’ll give you a $5 Reward Coupon).).
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, not only will you be alerted 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 pick-up location versus a home address as well.
16. Put Black Friday deal items in your online shopping cart a week before sales start.
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 is one of a few stores that offered doorbuster deals online in 2019. DICK’S Sporting Goods, Walmart and Target were also on this list.
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 will be trying to avoid crowds of people due to 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 2019, sales went live at 12:00 a.m. Friday on Groupon.)
In 2019, I saw Instax Fujifilm cameras for $74.99 (reg. $109.95).
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
- Target (free during November and December, more on that below!)
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 average savings you can get at popular retailers when you use a discounted gift card to make your purchase:
- Bath & Body Works: 7% off
- GAP: 9.2% off (may use at any GAP store, Banana Republic, Athleta, or Old Navy)
- JCPenney: 8.9% off
- Kohl’s: 4.7% off
- Macy’s: 4% off
- Michaels: 4% off
- Target: 3.1% off (Use your RedCard if you can’t get at least 5% off. More on this soon!)
- Walmart: 1.4% 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 that you can use on the internet, so keep your eyes peeled even when you’re offline.
25. Shop Target’s Black Friday sale 2020 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.
In 2019, Domino’s offered 50% off all online pizza orders, Panda Express and Olive Garden discounted your online orders by 20%.
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.
OK, first let’s collectively just hope and pray that we actually can get on planes to travel in 2021.
Assuming that we do, let’s look at the deals from 2019. On Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday, I saw $97 roundtrip deals on Delta, $29 one-way fares on Alaska, and $59 one-way fares on Southwest Airlines.
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!
29. Use Paribus to get automatic price adjustments.
Most retailers allow for a one-time price adjustment, usually within 7-14 days of purchase. If the price drops after you buy, you’re entitled to request that the difference be credited back to you.
But really, who has time to do that during the busy holiday shopping rush?!
With Paribus, you don’t have to do anything. It will track prices and request price adjustments on your behalf for free. How? It scans your inbox for receipts and sends an email for you. Refunds are usually returned in the form of original payment, via gift card, or store credit. 100% of the price difference is paid directly to you.
Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.
30. Expect totally free shipping with no minimums at Target in November and December.
I mean, you could just get this perk all year long as a RedCard holder, but it’s pretty darn cool that Target offered this to everyone in 2019. Fingers crossed that we’ll see it again.
31. 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 in hopes to capture all the last-minute shoppers who need packages delivered by Christmas.
At Krazy Coupon Lady, we’ll be sure to keep you informed of all the best deals between now and New Year’s, so stay tuned!
Don’t scroll up! Here are the articles I mentioned:
Amazon Black Friday 2020 Hacks You Must Know
These Inventory Trackers Will Send You Restock Alerts
Amazon Prime Day & Black Friday Coming in October
Retail Stores Now Offering Curbside Pickup
Stores That Offer Free Shipping with No Minimum Spend
Target Black Friday 2020 Shopping Tips for the Target-Obsessed