Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, and to get yourself the very best Black Friday deals it pays to be prepared. We're here to make sure you've got everything you need to make the most of Black Friday 2019.
This year Black Friday lands on November 29, 2019, but it's no longer just one day of shopping in person, swimming through the crowds. Online Black Friday sales are now just as big, if not bigger, than the 'meatspace' ones.
A web counterpart, Cyber Monday, was introduced in 2005 as a way to lend online sellers some of that potent Black Friday power. You can tell its age by the name alone.
It means the deals stretch over the Black Friday weekend, and well into the next week. Black Friday is not a day, it is a whole miniature shopping season of deals.
Tech is one of the biggest areas for Black Friday deals. It is probably the best time to, for example, buy an OLED TV. Each year we seen hundreds slashed off the prices of top-rated models from companies like LG, Samsung and Sony.
Headphones, home appliances, smart speakers, soundbars, smartphones and laptops are all fertile ground for Black Friday deals too, and you’ll find them across almost every major online retailer.
You’ll need some top tips to make the most of the often quick-fire opportunities, though. These are our strategies for making a success of Black Friday 2019.
1. Ask yourself: what do I need?
There’s one key way to avoid Black Friday regret. Decide what you need days, or weeks, before it even starts.
This will mean less rifling through dozens of different categories of deals, fewer extra hours spent hunched over a glowing screen, and no chance of waking up with buyer’s hangover, with a realization that you probably shouldn’t have bought that electric spiralizer after all.
2. Start a Black Friday 2019 wishlist on your phone
Starting a wish list document is the best way to make that first point actually work in reality. And this is, somehow, something we fail to do almost every year.
You could use an app like Evernote or Google Keep on your phone, Notepad or Notes on your laptop. Or the classic, a piece of paper stuck to your fridge with a magnet. This may seem obsessive, but means you have to think less about Black Friday, not more.
All the bits you need to know are there on the page, so you don’t have to keep them simmering away in your brain. If you’re anything like us, those pans soon boil over anyway, and you end up frantically trying to remember what it was you wanted in the first place the day before the Black Friday deals kick off.
3. Research areas of interest before Black Friday
Here’s where we get a little bit more serious. If you want a TV, a washing machine or a soundbar, do some research beforehand.
Find out what the top performing models and brands are, by reading reviews and roundups - you'll find many of them right here at TechRadar - and familiarize yourself with the terminology and specs.
You then won’t be left on Black Friday, cortisol-saturated and heart racing, wondering whether you want a seven liter washing machine or a nine liter one.
This is particularly important if you might end up buying something that's price is in the triple or quadruple digits.
4. Bookmark retailers for quick comparisons
Consider making some bookmarks for the top retailers that take part in Black Friday each year if you are not a perennial online shopper. The cast of chains does change each year, but the event is well-established globally, and the prime candidates for a deal do not really change.
In the US you’ll want to keep an eye out for Walmart, Amazon, B&H, Jet, Newegg and Best Buy. UK buyers can add Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, AO.com, Currys, Carphone Warehouse and Very to the list.
Search online and you’ll find articles that highlight the best deals from Black Friday 2018. Find out where they were from and you will have a good chance of catching the best buys before everyone else.
5. Sign up to Amazon Prime
Countless retailers offer Black Friday deals, but Amazon always provides many of the very best. To get fast access to many of them you’ll need an Amazon Prime membership.
For those reacting with "well, duh", we have news: not everyone treats Amazon Prime like a utility bill. It is optional, you know.
It currently costs $119 (£79, AU$59), and includes Netflix-a-like Prime Video, free shipping and Amazon Prime Reading. That last benefit doesn’t let you access all 6-million-plus Kindle books (and other forms of readable content), just around 1,000.
However, there are many great reads in that selection, and titles are switched out each month.
For the ultra price-conscious, Amazon offers a 30 day free Prime trial to new members, giving you access to all the benefits we've listed above. As long as you remember to cancel the membership before your 30 days is up, it won't cost you a penny.
The savvy Black Friday shoppers out there then will start their free Amazon Prime trial during the first week of November, and ensure it's cancelled before the end of the first week of December.
6. Start tracking prices before Black Friday
Some seem to think there’s a conspiracy to every sale, that prices go up five minutes before the drop just so the retailers can claim a huge discount. While this may happen in some questionable circumstances, there are specific consumer protection rules in some countries that try to stop it.
If there are some particular products you are keen to buy that may show up, you may want to start tracking some prices before Black Friday arrives.
Manually searching through sites the week before is one way. But there are tools to let you track Amazon prices too. Check out camelcamelcamel.com (opens in new tab) and keepa.com (opens in new tab) and you’ll have to do less work.
As well as knowing if a price has actually dropped, you'll also have a better idea of how good a deal is - especially if the product's price has been relatively stable at a higher level for most of the year and is then cut by a significant amount for Black Friday.
7. Consider a spreadsheet (of doom)
Nothing can make life better quite like a spreadsheet. Okay, that’s a lie. Spreadsheets are the death of fun, but they can be a great way to keep track of a bunch of prospective Black Friday buys.
One column holds the name, another the best price online before Black Friday starts. And the others are for the prices each of the major retailers offers during the sale.
That’s right, you’ll often see the same products on sale across multiple stores. Using a spreadsheet cuts down the frantic tab-hopping.
8. Get ready for early deals
Black Friday 2019 takes place on November 29 this year, but you'll need to be on your guard well before then.
Many of the biggest Black Friday players put deals online (usually) up to a week before the big day. While these may not be the hottest picks of the entire sale, you may find a few attractive limited-numbers deals.
It makes sense: an early winner will keep buyers coming back throughout the sale hoping for more of the same.
9. Get familiar with the Amazon deals format
We spend a lot of time on Amazon around Black Friday time, and as we mention it's one of the biggest - if not the biggest - online retailer when it comes to the quantity of Black Friday deals it offers.
But if you don’t live on the site half of the week, it’s a good idea to get used to navigating through its deals before the big ones land. You can do that right now.
Head to the Today’s Deals section of the Amazon website and you’ll see some deal modules much like those Amazon will use during Black Friday. Take note of the nav bar on the left, and how it lets you sift through the reams of questionable buys to find the good stuff.
10. Set yourself a budget
Don’t let Black Friday 2019 see you left in a classic eBay situation, where you get caught up in the excitement of it all and end up spending way more than you originally intended.
While the TechRadar team has mostly avoided regrettable Black Friday buys over the years, we’re very familiar with the pressure you can feel when those time-limited deals appear.
Remember that a lot of this is down to a shot of FOMO adrenaline. That soon disappears once the deal disappears, so set some rules and stick to them.
11. Don't leave it too late
Some Black Friday deals are strictly limited. Almost all of the best ones are. This is particularly true over at Amazon, where some buys are clearly restricted by stock and time.
And this is why all the prep we’ve already mentioned is important. Know what you want to buy when the goodies start to appear and you can make a clear decision quickly, without dithering about and potentially losing out on a great deal.