Black Friday is the most popular retail holiday of the year. If you plan on shopping this season, this guide will show you where to go and how to get the best deals.
According to the National Retail Federation, roughly 55% of all holiday shoppers (151 million people) visited retail stores or shopped online on Thanksgiving weekend in 2015. Nearly 73% of those shoppers visited stores on Black Friday itself. Collectively, they spent about $230 per person.
Most retailers offer exceptional shopping deals that are difficult or impossible to find any other day of the year. Thanks to extended hours and Thanksgiving evening blitzes at many retailers, it’s easier than ever to score great Black Friday deals without encountering crippling crowds or stress.
However, research and planning remain key to any successful Black Friday (or Thanksgiving evening) shopping trip. Use this Black Friday 2016 cheat sheet to draw up an efficient shopping plan that includes as many great deals as possible. Remember that some of the retailers outlined here specialize in specific product categories. For example, Home Depot specializes in home improvement and will have knowledgeable staff to help. Other retailers, such as Target and Walmart, take a more generalized approach that may require more DIY sleuthing.
Also, unless otherwise noted, the in-store tips and deals outlined here also apply online – so if you forget anything while you’re out and about, all is not lost. And some deals are exclusively found online – available when you get home from a long day of shopping or on your phone as you wait in line at the store.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday Open Hours
Your Black Friday experience will be infinitely more rewarding (and probably a fair bit less stressful) if you know when to go where. These are the 2016 Thanksgiving and Black Friday open hours for all the physical stores listed in this article:
- The Verizon Store: Varies by store
- The A&T Store: Varies by store
- Best Buy: Open from 5pm Thanksgiving to 1am Friday; opens again at 8am Friday (closes at 10pm; some locations’ hours may vary)
- Target: Open 6pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday
- Walmart: Open 6pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday
- Fry’s Home Electronics: Open from 5pm to 11pm Thanksgiving; opens again at 8am Friday (closes at 10pm)
- Staples: Open 6am Friday
- Toys “R” Us: Open 5pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday (closes at 11pm Friday)
- hhgregg: Open 7am Friday
- Home Depot: Open 5am Friday
- Lowe’s: Open 5am Friday
- Menards: Open 6am Friday (closes at 12am Saturday)
- Ace Hardware: Varies by store
- Kohl’s: Open 6pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday
- Macy’s: Open from 5pm Thanksgiving to 2am Friday; opens again at 6am Friday (closes at 10pm; some locations may remain open between 2am and 6am Friday)
- JCPenney: Open 3pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday (closes at 5pm)
- Old Navy: Open 4pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday (some locations may vary)
- Sears: Open 5am Friday (some locations may be open continuously from 6pm Thanksgiving)
- Kmart: Open 7pm Thanksgiving, continuous through Friday
Of course, barring crashes or hacks, these retailers’ websites are always available 24/7.
Black Friday Deals by Category
1. Small Electronics
Target is a general merchandise retailer with competitive store-wide Black Friday pricing. If you don’t want to get distracted by banners advertising deals on everything from clothing to household appliances, make a beeline for the electronics section, which is typically located on the back wall opposite the entrance.
Keep in mind that while Target’s electronics employees are just as knowledgeable as their counterparts at specialized electronics retailers, other departments’ employees probably won’t be able to answer your electronics questions.
To stretch your Black Friday dollars even further, sign up for a Target REDcard for an immediate 5% off your total purchase, plus 5% off on all future in-store and online purchases. Look out for more information about Target’s “10 Days of Deals” promotion, which runs November 19th through November 28th. Also, for the duration of the holiday season, Target is offering free shipping on all online orders in the continental United States. Finally, Target is offering gift cards ranging from $5 to $250 on select electronics purchases through Black Friday weekend.
Select Black Friday deals are available online starting early in the day on Thanksgiving.
Hot Deal: PowerBeats2 Wireless Earphones, $89.99 (normally $199.99)
Walmart is synonymous with general merchandise retail, so it’s a great place to find Black Friday deals on small electronics and accessories.
In addition to across-the-board discounts (up to 50% in many cases) on small electronics, Walmart’s Black Friday event is best known for the One-Hour Price Guarantee. The One-Hour Price Guarantee is basically a flash deal: All One-Hour Price Guarantee items are guaranteed to sell at a specified, usually deeply discounted price for one hour after the price is announced. If the store runs out of stock before the hour is up, customers can purchase the items at the service desk or register, and then pick them up at the same store on or before December 24th.
Before you head to the store, download Walmart’s iPhone or Android app, which has useful Black Friday store maps that point you to hot in-store deals at your home Walmart (use the store locator to select the right one). Also, all online purchases greater than $50 qualify for free shipping in the continental U.S.
Hot Deal: Sanus Full-Screen TV Wall Mount, $69 (normally $119.96)
Best Buy is the strongest of the U.S.’s surviving big-box electronics retailers. It’s also arguably the best electronics retailer for Black Friday shoppers who don’t quite know what they want when they walk into the store. Every Best Buy employee is an expert in something. With stores staffed to the gills on Black Friday, you’re sure to find someone to answer your questions quickly.
If you prefer to shop online, Best Buy offers free shipping on all purchases through the holidays. And if you encounter a problem with a Black Friday purchase at some point in the future, Best Buy’s Geek Squad team offers expert advice, troubleshooting, and repair – often included in item warranties.
Hot Deal: Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player With Built-in Wi-Fi, $199.99 (normally $399.99)
Fry’s Home Electronics is a regional electronics retailer that mainly serves the southern and western states. The company’s employees are every bit as knowledgeable as Best Buy’s, and the “order online, pick up in-store” process is seamless.
If you’re a frequent online shopper, set up a myFry’s account for an expedited checkout process. If you’re a business owner, be sure to visit on Thanksgiving when Fry’s holds its one-day sale on “core components, networking, and cybersecurity” products.
Hot Deal: Nine-inch Android Tablet, $39 (normally $99)
Staples‘ “Black Friday Blowout” features discounts up to 70% on in-store and online purchases. Since Staples is one of the country’s leading office supply stores, its employees are great at dispensing advice on which phones, tablets, and other gadgets are ideal for small business use. If you’re an entrepreneur, Staples needs to be high on your Black Friday schedule.
Staples More Account (store credit card with no annual fee) cardholders get an additional 5% off in-store and online purchases, free shipping for online purchases, and $50 off their first purchase of $150 or more. Those who have a More Account also get deferred (0% interest) financing for large purchases: 6 months for purchases greater than $299, 12 months for purchases greater than $499, and 18 months for purchases greater than $799.
Hot Deal: Samsung Galaxy Tab E-Lite (seven inches), $69 (normally $119)
The Verizon Store
If you get chills at the thought of braving Black Friday crowds at the big-box store, skip the rush and head to the Verizon Store. Although Verizon plans and products are widely available at Best Buy and other large-format retailers, the branded stores offer a host of deals that aren’t available anywhere else.
If you’re a current Verizon customer, you probably received an email advertising exclusive device markdowns (often 50% or greater) in the run-up to Black Friday. Those deals are good online and in-store.
Also, Black Friday is arguably the best day of the year to switch to a Verizon FiOS home Internet/TV/phone plan. For instance, you can get the Verizon FiOS Triple Play package for $79.99 per month for months 1 through 12, and $99.99 per month for months 13 through 24 when you sign up for a two-year contract – and Verizon will throw in a $150 prepaid card good for merchandise purchased online and in-store for your trouble.
A word of warning: Verizon’s Black Friday deals are notoriously fickle, so it’s not a bad idea to call ahead and make sure your desired items are still in stock at the advertised price.
Hot Deal: SOL Republic Motorola Deck Speaker, $39.98 (normally $99.98)
The AT&T Store
The AT&T Store‘s appeal is the same as the Verizon Store’s: similar savings and less chaos relative to big box retailers. AT&T’s inventory is also similar to Verizon’s, offering both in-store and online-only deals that can’t be found anywhere else.
The online deals are particularly juicy, though many require a two-year contract. For example, AT&T throws in an iPhone 5S 16 GB when you pay for a two-year agreement upfront. In-store staff members are generally helpful and unhurried.
Hot Deal: AT&T LG G Pad F 8.0, free with two-year contract (normally $69 to $299, depending on features)
Includes HDTVs, ultra HDTVs, smart TVs, LED TVs, and related accessories
Walmart has an expansive selection of flat-screen televisions and accessories. Somewhat surprisingly, the retail giant is one of the best places to find Black Friday deals on these items, period – in many cases outstripping dedicated electronics retailers such as Best Buy and Fry’s. If you really want to impress your friends and snag a great deal in the process, inquire at your local Walmart’s electronics section about Walmart-exclusive TV brands.
Hot Deal: Samsung 50-inch Class 4K Smart TV, $398 (normally $628)
hhgregg is a retailer that primarily serves the Midwest, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic states. Like Best Buy and Fry’s, hhgregg specializes in personalized and expert service, focusing almost exclusively on consumer electronics. Although the company does offer employee incentives, it doesn’t follow a traditional commission model, so you don’t have to worry about high-pressure sales or cross-selling when interacting with floor staff.
In 2016, hhgregg is advertising its “biggest deals ever” for Black Friday – better than 2015, or any year before. That’s not a guarantee that you’ll spend less on hhgregg TVs this year than you ever would have before, but it certainly implies that you can expect truly eye-popping deals.
While you’re at it, consider applying for the hhgregg Platinum Credit Card, a store credit card that gives you 5% off on every purchase, every day – similar to the Target redCARD. The hhgregg Platinum Credit Card is a store card, so you can’t use it at other retailers. However, you can apply even if you have poor or nonexistent credit, making it a great tool for building credit.
Hot Deal: Samsung 50-inch 1080-p LED TV, $349.99 (normally $899.99)
Best Buy’s 2016 Black Friday TV deals are among the year’s best consumer electronics deals anywhere – online or in-store. Discounts north of 70% aren’t uncommon, particularly during doorbuster hours on Friday morning. For even deeper discounts, check out Best Buy’s “Beat the Rush” deals, which are available in the days leading up to Black Friday.
Hot Deal: Samsung 48-inch Class (47.6-inch Diag.) 1080p LED Smart HDTV, $279.99 (normally $499.99)
Fry’s has an impressive collection of affordable TVs, including many compact LED and smart TVs that fit right into the kitchen or bedroom. Mail-in and instant rebates can further reduce the cost of these machines.
Hot Deal: LG 24-inch LED TV, $78 (normally $149)
3. Laptops & PCs
Includes laptops, notebooks, and 2-in-1 devices
Walmart’s laptop and PC selection is just as impressive as its TV selection, and it’s possible to find Walmart-exclusive models from HP, Dell, and other well-known manufacturers. Check Walmart’s website for online-only deals and promotions too.
Hot Deal: HP 15.6-inch Touchscreen Laptop, $249 (normally $389.99)
Best Buy reliably stocks just-released devices at industry-leading prices. Black Friday discounts of 30% to 50% aren’t uncommon, even on models that are hot off the assembly line.
Hot Deal: Lenovo Yoga 900 Two-in-One 13.3-inch Touchscreen Laptop (Intel Core i7, 8GB Memory, 256GB), $699.99 (normally $1,199.99)
If you’re lucky enough to live in its territory, Fry’s is one of the best stores to visit for eye-popping discounts on already affordable devices, particularly if you don’t care about having the latest or fanciest model. Keep in mind that some of the best deals require mail-in rebates.
Hot Deal: Lenovo 15.6-inch Intel Core i7 Laptop, $477 (normally $749)
Staples has a nice lineup of larger electronics too, including laptops, PCs, and two-in-one devices. Though you have to dig to find spectacular deals, it is worth your time, particularly if you’re seeking low-cost items made even more affordable by Staples’ deep Black Friday discounts.
Hot Deal: Dell Laptop With AMD A8 Processor and Windows 10, $269.99 (normally $429.99)
Toys “R” Us
Toys “R” Us is the best-known U.S. toy retailer. It has a comprehensive selection of the latest toys, games, and tech accessories for kids, as well as low-tech standbys. Employees are knowledgeable, though they’re often stretched thin on Black Friday – so plan ahead if at all possible.
A physical Toys “R” Us location may be in or near your hometown, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking the company’s flagship website for online-only deals. Plus, you can get free shipping on online orders worth $19 or more, or free same-day in-store pickup (for available items, guaranteed to be ready in less than an hour).
If you’re a frequent shopper, apply for an “R” Card (store credit card) from MasterCard. The “R” Card earns you 15% off your first purchase (or special financing if you prefer), plus points redeemable for Toys “R” Us merchandise.
Hot Deal: Pokemon 20th Anniversary 10-inch Plush Toy, $12.49 (normally $25)
Yep, Walmart has a huge stock of toys and games as well. Check out its Black Friday discounts on popular 2016 games for Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4, and PC.
Hot Deal: Select DVDs (more than 200 titles) at $1.96 per disc
Kmart is a well-known discount merchandise chain that is part of the Sears retail family, and it features an ample selection of toys for kids of all ages. Online orders of $35 or more qualify for free shipping.
Sign up for the Sears Card from Citi to get $5 off your first purchase of $50 or more at any Kmart location. And, when you spend more than $50 in Kmart stores, you get a voucher good for $0.20 per gallon off gas purchases of up to 20 gallons at participating Speedway, BP, and Kmart Express gas stations.
Hot Deals: Disney 10-inch “Frozen” or “Spider-Man” bike, $19.99 (normally $49.99)
Kohl’s is a general merchandise retailer that focuses on clothing, toys, gadgets, and durable home goods. This year, the company is running a number of parallel Black Friday promotions, including free shipping on online orders of $50 or more and $15 Kohl’s Cash (redeemable for in-store and online purchases) for every $50 spent through November 25, 2016.
Hot Deal: 50% off select toys from Fisher Price
5. Home Improvement
Includes raw materials, fixtures, tools, gardening supplies, and decorations
Lowe’s is a national home improvement chain that’s basically paradise for DIY fixers and handy types. Typically, in-store staff members are a bit more plentiful and hands-on than those at other big-box home improvement chains, including Home Depot (Lowe’s biggest competitor).
Online orders greater than $49 qualify for free shipping and you can sign up for the Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card to receive 5% off all in-store or online purchases. Look out for special one-day-only deals throughout the holiday season, including the run-up to Black Friday – they’re often far better than advertised specials.
Hot Deal: Kobalt 100-Piece Standard (SAE) and Metric Mechanic’s Tool Set With Hard Case, $49 (normally $119)
Home Depot is a one-stop home improvement superstore that offers competitive prices year-round. On Black Friday, the deals seem almost too good to be true.
Watch for “special deals of the day,” which promise savings of 50% or more on certain items (such as a Hoover Air Lite Compact vacuum cleaner). When purchased online, these deals always earn free shipping or local delivery (store to house), regardless of order size. Also, you can do free same-day pickup at your local store on pretty much any online purchase.
Hot Deal: Seven-and-a-half-foot Martha Stewart Living Quick Set Dual LED Pre-lit Artificial Christmas Tree, $79 (normally $199)
Menards is a home improvement retailer with stores in more than a dozen northern states. It’s best known for its frequent “take an additional 11% off” sales and industry-leading prices on lumber, paint, and plumbing supplies.
But Menards also has a surprisingly deep selection of kids’ toys, from model cars to high-tech dolls. Staff tends to be thin in the kids’ section, so do your research ahead of time and make a beeline for the toy shelves.
To boost your Black Friday savings, apply for the Menards BIG Card from Capital One. Every time you make a purchase, you earn 2% rebate on all purchases, redeemable for in-store or online Menards purchases once you earn at least $5 in rebates. You can also take advantage of six months of interest-free financing on purchases greater than $299, and 3.99% APR financing for 48 months on purchases greater than $1,500. Also, the BIG Card earns an additional 1% rebate on purchases at Speedway, Holiday, and Kwik Trip/Kwik Star convenience stores, redeemable for Menards purchases.
Hot Deal: MasterForce 20-volt Lithium-Ion Half-Inch Cordless Drill Kit, $49.99 (normally $99.99)
With more than 4,600 locally owned, small-format stores nationwide, Ace Hardware is a neighborhood alternative to Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards. If you’re going to be out and about on Small Business Saturday – the day after Black Friday – make Ace one of your first stops. Prices are competitive with those of larger home improvement retailers throughout Black Friday weekend.
Hot Deal: Premium Holiday Laser Light Projector With Remote, $59.99 (normally $99.99)
6. Clothing & Apparel
Includes clothing and accessories
Although Target certainly shouldn’t be your first choice for high-fashion purchases, it’s definitely more chic than big-box peers Walmart and Kmart. And its pricing power is evident in deep, broad Black Friday deals on everyday apparel and accessories.
Hot Deal: 30% off select men’s, women’s, and children’s sweaters (multiple brands)
Old Navy is known for apparel bargains year-round, but its Black Friday deal is truly magnificent: shoppers simply get 50% off the entire store. If you’re shopping online, you can apply multiple coupon codes to the same item (if applicable) to boost your spending power. The multi-coupon trick doesn’t work in-store, however.
Also, though your chances of winning are extremely small, don’t miss Old Navy’s once-daily $100,000 giveaway, which runs from November 18th through November 25th.
Hot Deal: 50% off entire store
The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t the only reason Macy’s is synonymous with holiday shopping. The famed department store offers deep Black Friday discounts on virtually everything in the store, from high-end beauty products to budget-friendly clothes. Staff members, most of which stick to specific departments, are experts in their respective fields.
Hot Deal: 75% off packable outerwear
Once the go-to retailer for affordable, fashionable clothing, JCPenney has lost some of its luster since the early 2000s. But with more than 1,000 stores in 49 states, it’s still a top destination for clothing bargains.
This year the store is offering doorbuster coupons for early arrivals on Thanksgiving – anywhere from $10 to $500 off your total purchase, depending on when you arrive. Online orders greater than $49 earn free shipping.
Hot Deal: 25% off select Nike clothing
Kmart is a great place to find clothing and apparel deals for the whole family. Arrive early to avoid dressing room lines.
Hot Deals: All family footwear (including boots, running shoes, and dress shoes) buy one get one for $1 (normally $7.99 to $69.99)
Includes laundry equipment, refrigerators and freezers, cooking equipment, dishwashing equipment, home mechanicals, and similar items
Sears is a major appliance and home improvement retailer. Though the company has fallen on hard times since the Great Recession, it’s still a great place to find Black Friday deals on its high-quality Kenmore appliance line. Plus, Sears Card holders save an additional 5% on all purchases and earn 12-month special financing (interest-free) on appliance purchases greater than $399. Online orders over $35 qualify for free shipping too.
Hot Deal: Kenmore 25.6-cubic-foot French Door Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator, $999.99 (normally $2,199.99)
Home Depot’s Black Friday appliance sale promises up to 40% off select models. Also, from November 2nd to November 23rd, the store is offering 12 months’ special financing on purchases larger than $299. Exact terms, including interest rates, vary by store and customers’ credit profiles. Through November 30th, you get an instant savings of $450 when you buy two or more appliances worth at least $498 apiece.
Hot Deal: Samsung Black Stainless Steel Dishwasher, $798 (normally $1,099)
Cardholders of the Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card get their choice of 18 months’ special financing (interest-free) or blanket 5% discounts on purchases greater than $299, which covers most appliance buys. Though special financing is available year-round, it’s an opportunity to reduce the upfront cost of Black Friday specials.
Hot Deal: Up to 40% off select appliances
Looking for Price Match Guarantees
Many U.S. retailers offer expansive price match guarantees on full-price and on-sale holiday merchandise. If you plan to shop at more than one location on Black Friday, or if you plan to follow millions of your fellow shoppers and complement in-store buys with online purchases, don’t forget to keep your receipts on hand – whether in your wallet, handbag, or email account. This simple step costs nothing to take, and the potential payoff is huge.
However, not all retailers make it easy to take advantage of price match guarantees. Take the time to read, in detail, every retailer’s price match policy. Though some policies are customer-friendly, others are restrictive. For instance, Best Buy’s price match guarantee covers all local competitors, plus online deals offered by brick-and-mortar retailers operating in your area; however, it excludes most online-only retailers.
What’s more, most price -match policies require covered items to be exactly the same: same model number or SKU, same size, same specs, same trim, and so on. Even slight variations can void a seemingly generous price match policy. Also, most retailers pointedly exempt clearance items from price matching, meaning many of the deepest Black Friday deals aren’t eligible.
On the bright side, retailers want your business, and they’re apt to grease squeaky wheels – so, if and when you do invoke a price match policy, don’t be afraid to escalate your complaint as high up the chain of command as necessary.
A backlash is brewing against one of the most popular Black Friday alternatives: shopping during Thanksgiving Day. The Mall of America, one of North America’s largest retail centers, made waves this year when it announced that it would encourage its stores to close on Thanksgiving. According to KARE, only three Mall of America stores chose to remain open on Thanksgiving Day 2016 – a sharp departure from previous years. Other malls, shopping districts, and individual retailers are following suit.
This is great news for retail employees who work hard during the holidays and surely deserve time off with their families. On the other hand, it’s likely to increase traffic on Black Friday and the rest of the long post-Thanksgiving weekend.
Therefore, in a more crowded, higher-stakes holiday shopping environment, pre-Black Friday planning is more important than ever. Use this guide to create a detailed list of your intended shopping destinations. Determine what you want to buy at each place. Come up with some alternatives for each item in case you can’t find it in stock. And don’t forget to keep this post handy on your phone as you work your way through the aisles.
And if you forget something when your Black Friday shopping bonanza is done? Well, there’s always Cyber Monday.
What’s your plan for Black Friday 2016?