How to find the best Black Friday deals

Trae Bodge, CNN Underscored
Updated Mon November 25, 2019

When Black Friday began decades ago, it was all about shopping in-store. There was no internet. Now, rather than camp out overnight in front of their favorite stores, more and more Black Friday shoppers are shopping online at home with their feet up. Between 2017 and 2018, online shopping on Black Friday grew 23.6%, reaching $6.2 billion in sales last year, according to Adobe Insights. These proven shopping strategies will help you find the Best Black Friday deals.

Plan ahead. Black Friday lands on Nov. 29 this year. But many retailers offer early deals. And even though Black Friday is packed with sales, not everything is a great deal. We're seeing strong discounts on tech, gaming consoles and video games, kitchen appliances, apparel and accessories, and beauty. Tackle seasonal holiday decor in December when prices should go lower.

Get organized. An organized list, including gift ideas and a budget for each recipient, can keep you on task — and help prevent overspending. While it's important to move quickly to grab a time sensitive Amazon deal, for example, you'll avoid making unnecessary impulse buys if you check your list first.

And if you use the memo function on your phone, a doc in Google Drive or an app like Evernote, you'll have your list with you at all times. Add to this list every year, and you'll always know what you bought and how much you spent. Keep in mind that most in-store sales are also online. While you might miss out on the holiday décor and tunes (or the free coffee and hot cocoa at Walmart) if you shop online, you'll also get to skip the crowds and the mayhem.

Do your homework. Research the best deals before you add anything to your shopping cart. CNN Underscored, for example, has up-to-the-minute coverage of the all the best Black Friday deals. Here's some of the stories we'll update this week:


Let tech be your guide. If you brave the stores, retailer apps can help you get in and out more quickly. If online shopping is more your jam, they can help you plan. For example, the Target app lets you make shopping lists and see related deals. The Sephora app offers voice search so you can easily find items within the store, and you can use it to make lists of desired items. The Home Depot app also lets you to make lists, and you can use it to find nearby stores and check inventory.

Sign up. If there are retailers you plan to shop with on Black Friday, sign up for their email lists. In many cases, you can score a subscriber discount on your first order. You'll also be privy to sale info as soon as it's available, and you might score early access or exclusive promo codes. You'll always know when they launch new collections or have a sale. And some, like Nordstrom and The Grommet, offer helpful info like gift or style inspiration. (Want someone to do the work for you? Our CNN Underscored newsletter has updates across all retailers and shopping categories.)

Use social media. Following brands on social media is another way to stay in the know. Brands will post about upcoming sales and sometimes offer deals exclusive to their followers. So pick your favorite platform and follow along. (You can keep up with CNN Underscored on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.)

Do your homework. Even if you choose to do your Black Friday shopping in the relative calm of your own home, it can still feel hectic. You might be tempted to click "buy" on every good deal you see. Some Black Friday deals will be crazy good, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're good for you. First, consult your list to make sure it's something you need — and be honest with yourself. If you're not familiar with an item, read online reviews and compare prices to make sure you're getting the best deal. And check the model number to be sure you're not buying an outdated item.

Stack your savings. The deals on Black Friday will be good, but you can often add even greater savings. Check the websites of your credit cards to see if they're offering extra cash back or points when you shop with specific retailers. Or look for discounted gift cards. A gift card aggregator like Gift Card Granny is a good place to look for these saving opportunities.

Can it wait? If you don't have the day off, or if you ate too much turkey and just don't feel like shopping, many deals will continue through the weekend to Cyber Monday. And if you're planning a trip, keep your eyes on hotels and airlines offering deals throughout the weekend and on Travel Tuesday (the day after Cyber Monday). Try to ignore any feelings of FOMO. There will always be more deals.