On Black Friday, it’s easy to get roped into flashy doorbuster sales promising the lowest prices of the year. Cyber Monday is even more tantalizing, with retailers declaring it the last chance to score bargains as the clock ticks closer to the holiday season.
Thanks to a late Thanksgiving this year – meaning less time to find the perfect gifts for loved ones -- retailers have increased their offerings for sales and discounts as competition grows. But that doesn’t mean all sales are good sales. Consumers looking for the best deals for popular gift items should do their research before swiping their credit cards.
Here at IBTimes, we brainstormed some of consumers’ most-wanted items for holiday gifts and spoke to the experts to help minimize bad shopping mistakes and maximize extra cash in your pocket this season. Here’s a guide to what you should buy this holiday shopping season – and when the best time is to do it is – plus what you should skip altogether.
Santa has a long list of children to deliver presents to this holiday season, and what do most of them have on their lists? Toys. But according to Dealnews, to get the best deals on toys, “skip Black Friday and focus your toy-hunting efforts on the first two weeks of December.” The site recommended the week of December 8 to 14 as the best period for low prices on toys.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither. (Dec. 8-14)
When it comes to that big screen you’ve been imagining mounted on your wall, it might be best to wait it out. Offers.com CEO Steve Schaffer told IBTimes that brand-name televisions, which are advertised by retailers during Black Friday to get people in their stores, are actually cheapest in February. “I wouldn’t buy name-brand TVs or electronics,” Schaffer said. “The best time to buy those is Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a little-known deal fact. It’s turned into the best day. I think I’ve bought two TVs myself on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s the best price ever on particular TV sets.”
However, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great days to find cheap DVDs or Blue-ray movies or boxed sets, Dealnews reported.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither. (Super Bowl Sunday)
If you’re planning to finally buy that Xbox One or PlayStation 4 on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it’s best to do your research and buy the console in a bundle with games to get more bang for your buck. Offers.com’s Schaffer told IBTimes that video game console “prices are going to fluctuate this entire holiday season.” He recommends dictating purchases based on the “different bundles with different games and packs” depending on what gaming system you want. For this, Black Friday or Cyber Monday are both ideal days to shop, if you find a bundle that suits your preferences.
Dealnews.com reported, though, when it comes to the Xbox One or PS4, buy as soon as possible because those newly-released consoles are in high demand and may sell out.
IBTimes also culled some of the best video games deals from Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Gamestop and more for those seeking the perfect gift for a gamer.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Both!
For apparel, Schaffer said “Cyber Monday is a better time to buy clothing because you’re going to find storewide sales and storewide offers.” He also recommended for those looking for designer clothing and luxury items to shop discount stores and outlets, which IBTimes outlined in a handy guide with the best store sales out there.
One thing to note is that winter apparel will also be placed on clearance later in the season, around mid-January. So unless you absolutely have to have the item now, it could be best to wait for final clearance prices with end-of-the-season discounts.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Cyber Monday!
Home improvement, tools and supplies
Is your father or husband longing for a monogrammed wrench or new lawnmower to use when the snow clears? You might want to wait until the snowman melts, FatWallet told 24/7 Wall St. The shopping website said home improvement tools and supplies are much cheaper around Father’s Day in June, when consumers are looking for spring cleaning sales. The same goes for all supplies and products automotive, which are cheaper for Father’s Day. For gas grills, September is when outdoor cooking items are generally marked down to their lowest prices, as retailers begin clearing summer items for popular holiday items.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither. (Father’s Day)
This comes as no surprise: It’s best to buy Christmas decorations after Christmas passes. Many retailers reduce décor from anywhere between 50 and 80 percent off beginning Dec. 26, Dealnews wrote, in an effort to clear their shelves. So, for the cheapest options, stock up on décor for next year, this year.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither. (Dec. 26)
If you wanted to get a head start working off that Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham, you might as well wait until you’re obligated to make a New Year’s resolution. Gottadeal reported that fitness equipment is cheapest in January, when gyms are promoting membership deals and discounts.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither. (January)
Ready to pop the question? It may be best to wait until February, because according to Dealnews, that’s the ideal time to get a deal on jewelry. The site noted that while there are discounts during the winter season for jewelry, Valentine’s Day is the cheapest for baubles.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither. (Valentine’s Day)
Cookware, Appliances and Home Items
If you’re planning to be the chef this holiday season, it’s a great time to buy cookware and appliances. Dealnews reported the entire month of November is best to buy pots and pans, small electronics and appliances. Mass retailers will also have a good amount of other home items such as furniture, bedding and décor on sale throughout November, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
For large home appliances, Investorplace wrote that many retailers will be offering free shipping to entice shoppers on Cyber Monday.
VERDICT: Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Both!
Want more Black Friday coverage? Follow Nadine DeNinno on Twitter @nadinedeninno or check out IBTimes’ holiday shopping coverage below.
Nadine joined IBTimes in July 2011 and is the editor of the Continuous News Desk, which covers trending news. She writes about retail, the fashion industry and pop culture...