5 items NOT to buy during Black Friday

Pandemic or not, retailers are offering big discounts during Black Friday this year. But not all the deals are worth shopping for.


Photo by Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images

It’s safe to say — like many other aspects of the holidays this year — the coronavirus pandemic has changed Black Friday.

In recent years, holiday sales have started earlier and earlier. But with the coronavirus pandemic making in-person shopping riskier, retailers have shifted away from one-day sales.

Stores have run promotions throughout the month of November, and most will continue many of those sales into December. The hope is that by spreading the wealth, retailers will also spread the crowds at their stores. Similarly, retailers are offering fewer in-store-only promotions this year, emphasizing online shopping instead.

See also: How to shop safely this Black Friday with coronavirus cases on the rise

“‘Black Friday’ has really become ‘Black November,’” said Kristin
Cook, managing editor for BensBargains.com. “Stores are spreading the deals
out, and encouraging people to shop earlier than ever before, likely because of
shipping delays that happened at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Whether or not a “Black Friday” sale is happening on the actual
day itself though, it’s important for shoppers to know which deals are steals,
and which won’t offer much in the way of savings. Here are five items holiday
shopper should avoid during “Black Friday” sales events:

New gaming consoles

The newest consoles from Sony
SNE
and Microsoft
MSFT
— the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S respectively — may be at the top of many people’s holiday wish lists. But don’t expect any deals.

“Weirdly, a lot of retailers — Walmart
WMT,
for example — are advertising the PS5 and even Nintendo Switch consoles as ‘Black Friday’ specials, but they’re not on sale at all,” Cook said.

Unfortunately,
bargain hunters may be out of luck for some time. Given the popularity of the
latest-generation video game consoles, retailers are unlikely to reduce their
prices anytime soon.

Travel packages

The travel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Theme parks haven’t opened to full capacity, airlines continue to see low demand and cruises have yet to resume operations in the U.S. Travel operators are likely to offer discounts for future bookings during the holiday season in a bid to drum up business for 2021 and beyond.

But consumers may not want to bite. “Cabin fever is real this year, but COVID cases are also on the rise in many areas again,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. Ramhold suggested not booking any trips to take place earlier than next fall to be safe.

If you do book, make sure that the package comes with a flexible cancellation policy. “The worst thing would be for you to finally get away only to have to spend your entire vacation in quarantine because your destination has another shutdown in place,” Ramhold said.

Toys

Many parents may hope to save a buck or two by shopping now for
their kid’s Christmas wish-list, but they’d be better off waiting.

“The best deals on toys are
found about two weeks before Christmas, at around 20% to 25% off,” said Sara
Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot.

Of course, there’s always
the risk of stores selling out. For the hottest toys, parents will want to
consider buying even if the item isn’t discounted now, or risk losing out
entirely.

Outdoor furniture

The coronavirus pandemic has made indoor gatherings very risky —
but don’t expect to save money by buying items outfitting your backyard during
holiday sales.

“While consumers might be gearing up to spend winter at home, odds
are they won’t find many discounts on items for their backyard spaces right now,”
Ramhold said. “We do tend to see heaters go on sale during the month of
December, but often those are the indoor or space heater varieties, and not the
ones designed for patios.”

Similarly, fire pits and patio furniture are unlikely to be marked
down even though they’re in high demand.

Televisions

Traditionally, TVs are some of the most popular doorbuster deals
during Black Friday. But while the discounts appear huge, in reality they’re
not that competitive.

Often the TV sets on sale for the holidays aren’t the
top-of-the-line, newest models or biggest brands.

“The lead-up to the Super Bowl, assuming it takes place, is generally a better time to buy TVs,” said Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at BlackFriday.com.

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