Black Friday 2017: Everything You Need to Know
As Thanksgiving draws near, Black Friday looms large in our minds and bank accounts. Every year, online retailers expand the scope of the discounts, and this shopping season will likely be no different.
For the next few weeks, we'll dedicate much of our time to sniffing out the very best Black Friday deals. This post will serve as something of a central hub, providing information about Black Friday, and linking out to the latest deals when the time comes. For now, let's jump in, and familiarize ourselves with all the Black Friday scuttlebutt.
Black Friday basics
Companies large and small have taken to using this unofficial start of the shopping season to garner a staggering amount of year-end sales. If you want to get the most out of every dollar you spend on gifts, this commercial holiday is the very best time of the year to do your online shopping.
While Black Friday sales originated in the world of brick and mortar, most holiday shopping is now accomplished online. Instead of lining up at Toys 'R' Us or Kmart in the shivering cold, many of us now kick back on the couch and order gifts from our phones. You can cover more ground digitally, and that's exactly what we recommend.
The biggest draws will be the early morning doorbusters and rotating Lightning Deals. By shrinking the supply, retailers can offer huge discounts to garner attention from shoppers.
What to expect
This year, Black Friday is on Nov. 24, but it isn't really just a single day anymore. The two weeks before and after Thanksgiving offer bargains galore, too, as does turkey day itself. Keep an eye open for particularly alluring early deals, but you might want to hold off until prices start falling fast closer to Black Friday.
Keep in mind, many of the very best deals will have a limited supply. If you're looking to save a lot on big-ticket items, keep refreshing your favorite sites, and look for upcoming bargains -- especially Amazon's Lightning Deals.
OK, so what kind of deals are we likely to see? Some deals are perennial and damn near guaranteed. For example, it would be unthinkable if Amazon didn't offer hefty discounts on its Fire tablets, Echo speakers or Kindle ebook readers. And laptops? They're a staple of Black Friday sales. We expect to see budget laptops for as low as $110, and Chromebooks will likely get nice discounts as well.
As for other great deals, let's start with gaming. PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch bundles seem like a safe bet for discounts, and we think controllers are primed for a sale this time of year. The three major VR headsets have already received price cuts this year, but they might just get an extra boost on Black Friday, too.
Google is also pushing hard into the smart home market. Google Home lets you play music, set reminders and control your smart devices with just your voice. It's been advertised a lot lately, and we think there's a good chance it'll be discounted heavily for Black Friday, particularly since there are new entrants in the Home lineup: the Google Home Mini and upcoming Google Home Max. Google's Nest thermostats might just go on sale as well, making it the perfect time to turn your house into a smart home.
Of course, 4K TVs will be a massive draw, and we're anticipating some incredible deals. Stores like Fry's Electronics typically have excellent doorbuster TV deals, and we expect to see some low-end 50-inch UHD TVs selling for as low as $200. Now that consoles can take advantage of 4K displays, and there's a decent supply of UHD video, this is the perfect opportunity to upgrade.
Black Friday prep
First thing's first, you should have accounts and saved payment info with all of your favorite sites. Some doorbuster deals have very limited stock, so anything that can save you time during checkout is a priority. And if you already have an account, go through and ensure that your payment information is up to date. If your card expired, that could really crimp your shopping experience.
Do you have an Alexa-enabled device like an Amazon Echo? Take a moment to configure it to allow for voice purchases. In the past, Amazon has had a number of exclusive deals through its Alexa service, so it's worth keeping that option open if something you really want pops up.
If your favorite online retailers have loyalty programs or paid memberships, those can offer you access to some of the very best deals when Black Friday rolls around. For example, Amazon Prime offers 30-minute head-starts on Lightning Deals to Prime members, and you can even try it out for free. And if you plan on buying any games this year, it's well worth investing in the rewards programs from Best Buy, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
And if you're on the lookout for something specific, our sister site TechBargains has a deal alert tool that will email you whenever they find a match on dozens of online stores. This is one of the easiest ways to stay abreast of the deals as they hit, so don't hesitate to take advantage.