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9 Things Not to Buy on Black Friday

Deals abound, but not everywhere

Three examples of items not to buy on Black Friday because you'll get better deals at other times: treadmill, toys, and furniture
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Although some consumers have been shopping for the holidays for months now, many others still view Black Friday as the unofficial kickoff to holiday shopping season and an opportunity to snag once-a-year deals at major retailers.

Last year 180 million Americans shopped either online or in-person over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation

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But experts say that while there are lots of great deals available on Black Friday — especially on televisions and other tech and electronics — there are certain items that shoppers might consider holding off on. Here’s a look at nine products not to buy on Black Friday.

1. Holiday decorations

When you’re in the holiday spirit, it’s easy to go overboard purchasing holiday-themed adornments for your home. However, if you can resist and make do with the decor you bought last year, you’ll see much better prices on holiday decorations in January.

“While it may be too late to get them in 2022, you can definitely get the best deals on these items in 2023,” says Brad Godwin, SVP, head of retail partnerships at Shopkick.

2. Furniture and mattresses

Although there may be some sales on furniture and mattresses over the holidays, shopping for such big-ticket items may be an unnecessary distraction during Black Friday, says Vipin Porwal, CEO and consumer expert at the cash-back portal Smarty.

“You can find equally sweet or better deals on Presidents Day for them,” he says.

3. Travel deals

Travel site Hopper found that travel sites offered twice as many discounts on “Travel Deal Tuesday” (November 29 this year) as they did on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. If you’re planning a trip next year, travel sites, hotels and airlines often offer their best deals on that day.

“With airfare prices going up thanks to inflation, this savings even may be your best bet to snag any discounts for a potential trip next year,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer money-saving expert.

4. Toys

Toy prices tend to fall throughout December as Christmas approaches, so the longer you can wait to purchase playthings for the children in your life, the better. One caveat: For the hottest toy items, it may be worth spending a little bit more early in the season if you’re at all concerned about supplies running out.

5. Winter apparel

While you’ll likely see some discounts on winter clothes, including coats and sweaters and accessories like boots, gloves and hats, it’s too early in the season for retailers to offer their best discounts.

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“Black Friday will mostly have fall clothing deals,” says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews, a comparison-shopping website. “So if you’re looking for hardcore winter wear, you’re better off waiting until January or even later for the best prices on these items.”

6. Gift cards

Discounted gifts cards are a great way to stretch your holiday budget, especially for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your list. But retailers typically don’t offer their gift card deals until later in the season.

“Hands down, we will see a ton more [gift card discounts] during December,” Ramhold says. “Unless you see a really good one that you just can’t pass up, it’s best to wait a bit longer.”

7. Exercise equipment and clothing

The best prices of the year on exercise gear typically arrive in January, when retailers like to take advantage of consumers making New Year’s resolutions to get in shape. Unless you have a giftee who specifically asked for an exercise-related item for the holidays, you’re better off waiting a few more weeks to make the purchase.

8. Off-brand electronics

While retailers offer their best deals of the year on electronics, some also offer even lower prices on off-brand electronics. These may be subpar devices, and they may not include the same warranty protections as items made by more high-profile brands.

“It’s better to stick with a brand name and model that has received good reviews, even if it means paying more,” Woroch says. “You will get more life out of it, so you save more over time. Woroch suggests opting for refurbished items that come with a warranty and are sold by a reputable retailer over purchasing off-brand items.

9. Impulse buys

The excitement of holiday shopping and eye-popping discounts can make it tempting to pick up a few extra well-priced items. “Black Friday creates a frenzy, and it makes people make poor decisions and they end up buying more than they intended,” says Kimberly Palmer, a spokesperson with personal finance website Nerdwallet.