10 Things You Shouldn’t Buy on Black Friday

By on November 3, 2014

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With Black-Friday caliber deals kicking off already this morning at stores like Walmart and Amazon, the shopping season is in full swing. However, not everything that goes on sale on Black Friday is going to be the best deal. We have put together a list of ten product categories that you should avoid spending money on this Black Friday and look to other times of the year for more aggressive discounts.

4K Ultra HD Televisions (Brand name)

While we have seen a couple early deals on brand name 4K Ultra HD televisions knocking prices down 25 to 35 percent, wait until early March 2015 to get a great deal on a discontinued 2014 4K Ultra HD model. In general, this advice also applies to most high-end brands as well; LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony, especially sizes 55 inches and higher.

However, you will find flash sales on some of these models during mid-November and mid-December, likely to spur sales outside of Black Friday. Specifically, look for discounts that tie in gift card bonuses. If you must purchase a brand name before Christmas, look to late December for the best prices. Manufacturers start early on sales of discontinued televisions, although prices aren’t as aggressive as the following year after CES.

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As for televisions 55 inches and under, look for a mid-range brand like Vizio to offer the best value for your dollar. Off-brands like Coby, Haier, Hisense, Insignia, Magnavox, RCA, Sanyo, TCL and Westinghouse are usually discounted heavily on Black Friday, but have higher failure rates than mainstream brands and generally don’t offer the same level of picture quality.

Tablets (Everything but Apple)

We consistently saw better deals during 2013 on tablets during early to mid-November as well as early to mid-December than on Black Friday. This included heavy discounts on tablets like the Google Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX and Samsung Galaxy Tab that were $20 to $30 cheaper than Black Friday prices.

It’s also likely that we will see a continued aggressive approach to sales of tablets with Windows 8. During 2013, we saw huge discounts on the Microsoft Store both before and after Black Friday on popular third party models. However, if you are interested in the Surface Pro 3, you are better off waiting until early 2015 to get the best price on the tablet.

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX

Apple traditionally has a Black Friday sale that offers a small discount (5% to 10%) on purchases of new hardware. However, other retailers (Target, Walmart, Best Buy) will offer a similar discount and perhaps tie in a gift card bonus with the purchase (usually between $50 to $100).

Taking that a step further, this is definitely the year to pick up an iPad Mini 2. While the Mini 3 only offers a modicum of upgrades from Apple, the Mini 2 received a $100 price drop and will be tied in to some aggressive promotions this year for further savings. It’s also worth the $50 bump from the original Mini due to the high resolution Retina display and faster processor.

DSLR Cameras

According to one of our sister sites, Steve’s Digicams, new cameras are typically announced twice a year. Once at CES during early January, making February / early-March a great time to pick up a deal on an older model, and in September timed with Photokina, making October / early-November another great period of sales. In addition, the major of point-and-shoot models are announced around CES while many DSLR cameras hit later in the year.

Offering sales usually $100 to $150 better than Black Friday, we saw heavy discounts on DSLR cameras in late October and early November during 2013. However, Black Friday prices actually spiked back up in order to take advantage of consumers purchasing gifts. You will find some decent sales on point-and- shoot models in November and on Black Friday, but that market segment has been swallowed up by smartphones over the last three years.

PlayStation 4 / Xbox One Console Bundles

Over the last 6 months, we have seen the base model of the PS4 drop as low as $350 and the base model of the Xbox One (without Kinect) drop to $360 (the Kinect version will probably be $400 or lower). These standalone prices will be more advantageous to consumers than being forced into a bundle, especially with recent sales on Xbox One / PS4 games.

If you are researching a bundle, be sure to do a search on the prices of the games bundled with the console. Frequently, these bundles include an older game that retails for $30 rather than the typical $60 MSRP. Also, look for coupons that work on bundles for sales that occur prior to Black Friday. For instance, the $450 MSRP white PS4 with Destiny recently hit $405 on Groupon.

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Regarding the Wii U, it’s fairly impossible to purchase the console without a bundle at this point, due to games prepackaged by Nintendo. However, you should be on the lookout for bundles that include even more games for a price point that sticks around $225 to $250. Also, if you don’t mind buying used, purchasing a refurbished model directly from Nintendo will cost you about $200 (and will likely be in new condition based on reviews of Nintendo’s reconditioning service).

Be aware that previous generation consoles (Xbox 360, PS3) will also be on sale, but those models will continue to become less useful over time. Unless you see bundles in the $150 range, it’s now time to skip the older generation.

Toys

It’s common knowledge that the majority of toy discounts occur during early to mid-December in order to bring in a huge rush of holiday shoppers, however there will be a smattering of toys that will also receive discounts during early to mid-November, basically matching the Black Friday price. A few products which received that treatment in 2013 included a LeapPad tablet, a number of popular LEGO sets and some Imaginarium toys.

Unlocked Smartphones

In general, Black Friday isn’t a great day to buy smartphones under contract, but it’s even worse for unlocked smartphones. Based on deals posted during 2013, you are going to find the same price on an unlocked smartphone from late October to late December. Prices generally don’t shift in consideration for Black Friday sales and the expensive price of an unlocked phone isn’t really conducive to an aggressive doorbuster sale.

Galaxy-unlockedHowever, you should find some $0 down deals on Android and Windows smartphones that were released during early 2014. It’s also likely that retailers will attempt to tie in small gift card promotions ($20 to $50) with the purchase of a new smartphone.

Regarding iPhone sales, it’s possible that the 5S will be reduced in price by a retailer like Walmart, but the newer iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will still be priced high due to the recent release of the smartphone and the ongoing strong sales.

If you can hold out for a couple more months, be sure to check deals in February when manufacturers are clearing out old stock to make way for new smartphone models announced at CES in January.

Accessories (Mobile and Home Theater)

As with limited smartphone sales, you are also going to have a tough time landing great deals for mobile accessories like headphones and brand-name Bluetooth speakers. For instance, we saw 2013 sales in early November on popular headphone brands from Beats and Klipsch that were 30 to 50 percent cheaper than prices on Black Friday. Basically, retailers that get someone to purchase a cheap tablet on Black Friday often attempt to upsell on mobile accessories that are priced near MSRP.

You will see the same trend with accessories related to television purchases. You will start to lose money if the salesperson talks you into purchasing a $20 HDMI cable, a $150 touchscreen remote and a $250 TV stand with your new television. If you do buy a new TV this year, be sure to check out Monoprice for awesome prices on reliable HDMI cables.

Fitness equipment

Not surprisingly, Black Friday is a horrible time to find sales on fitness gear, namely because the big push on those sales doesn’t occur until after the New Year starts. After everyone puts on the pounds during the holiday, expect to see a spike in sales during January and early February on exercise equipment, both machines and clothing. It may be beneficial to purchase equipment upfront at the start of the year rather than purchasing an expensive year-long gym contract.

Seasonal / Large Items

There are number of varied items that fall into this category such as gas grills, patio furniture, school supplies, new cars, home furniture, mattresses, refrigerators, winter clothing, kids’ clothing and homes. In general, these items are more frequently found on sale at different times of the year during events like back-to-school sales, Memorial Day sales and Labor Day sales as well as shopping trends that occur during the Spring and Summer.

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While you certainly will see some broad discounts on all of these items during Black Friday and the holiday season in general, it’s better to wait to the appropriate month to snag the best deals on these items. Black Friday sales on these items just aren’t the same caliber as the correct seasonal time of year.

Holiday Decorations

Every year, the prices on holiday decorations will plummet as we get closer to the holiday. If you aren’t planning on putting the tree up until well after Thanksgiving, you will be much better off shopping for lights and other decorations a couple weeks after Black Friday. Black Friday prices on holiday decorations are low, but are still generally marked up to take advantage of impulse shoppers.

Similar to Halloween, we also recommend perusing the holiday deals on decorations after the holiday season ends. You can find some killer 75 to 90 percent off deals on everything. It’s the absolute best time to land a great deal on a huge artificial tree. Last year, we saw 6-foot trees as low as $10, 7-foot trees as cheap at $21 and 7.5-foot trees as cheap as $44. Prior to Christmas, those trees had a MSRP range of $150 to $300.

About Mike Flacy

By day, I'm the Editor-in-Chief for The CheckOut in addition to being the content manager for Steve's Digicams and High-Def Digest. During my free time, I love to write about pop culture, home theater, digital photography, social media, mobile technology and cool gadgets!

5 Comments

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