Forget doorbusters; 2020 is the year of the web-buster. Retailer websites are bursting with Black Friday deals. Overall, holiday online sales are forecast to top $190 billion, or 35.8 percent more than last year, while in-store sales are expected to drop 5 percent, according to eMarketer.
If you're still thinking about braving the crowds — and the germs — to do a traditional Black Friday in-store shopping spree, here are 10 reasons to stay home and shop safely from your couch instead.
1. The best deals might already be gone.
If you're waiting to do your deal hunting in stores on Black Friday (Nov. 27), there's a good chance you could lose out on some of the best bargains of the season. This year, Black Friday has morphed into Black November as major retailers, including Best Buy, Home Depot, JCPenney, Kohl's, Macy's, Target and Walmart, have already started their big sales. And unlike past years, just about all of the juiciest deals are online. The few in-store-only doorbusters that I spotted were TVs, including a 60-inch LG TV for $399 at Target. Bottom line: It pays to shop early and often online, especially if you're looking to buy a hot item. “It is possible that the price might fall a bit more, but you'll know you got a good deal and you won't be shopping during the Black Friday rush when things might sell out,” says Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at BlackFriday.com. To ease worries about missing out on even lower prices, Target is extending its price-match guarantee on select items.
2. No lines.
In-store traffic during the holiday shopping season is expected to be down by up to 25 percent, according to ShopperTrak. But you might still have to wait in long lines. Many stores that normally kick off their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving, including Best Buy, Walmart, Target and Kohl's, have announced they will be closed this year for the holiday, and when they open on Black Friday morning they may be limiting in-store traffic. Instead of waiting in lines outside stores to snag the best deals, queue up online so you don't miss out! Here's how: Most sites let you bookmark or save product selections on a wish list; also, place sale items in your online shopping cart, if possible. “In some cases, you can go directly to the product page online and add items to your cart; when the deal goes live, you'll see the price drop and can buy it,” says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews. “Other retailers will change their web pages slightly so you can look up the product now but the product page will change when the deal goes live.” Either way, be prepared to pounce when the sale goes live. Putting an item in your cart doesn't guarantee you'll get it. Check if the store's site or app offers alerts, like Macys.com and Amazon, or mark your calendar. Ramhold warns that due to the volume of online shoppers this year she expects website hiccups. Try to be patient if pages aren't loading quickly.
3. Free shipping.
When you shop online, you save both time and gas money. And many stores offer fast, free shipping with low order minimums. Target and Walmart, for example, offer free 2-day shipping on orders of $35 or more; Amazon's minimum is $25, unless you're an Amazon Prime member. (If you're worried about porch pirates, try out Amazon hubs.) If you're holiday shopping on the late side, take advantage of Free Shipping Day, which falls on Dec. 14 this year and features hundreds of stores offering free shipping deals.