Black Friday or Cyber Monday: Wondering when it's the best time to shop to save the most on your holiday gifts? Holiday bargains may start earlier each year, but according to the experts, some retailers still save some of their deepest discounts for the biggest shopping days of the year.
Knowing which day to shop depends largely on what you're buying. "We see more site-wide discounts or category-wide discounts on Cyber Monday, whereas Black Friday will often have very specific products such as electronics and home goods at deep, deep discounts," says Regina Conway, consumer expert for Slickdeals, an online deal-sharing community. "However, on Cyber Monday, there are discounts that can beat out Black Friday."
Whether you're braving the stores after Thanksgiving dinner or sticking to online shopping, here's what you should buy—and skip—on these major deal days.
Eyeing up an immersion blender for your smoothie-loving best friend? Major retailers consistently mark down kitchen appliances to rock-bottom prices during big holiday sale events — and prices could sometimes fall under $10 after mail-in rebates, Conway says. Some also throw in store rewards in addition to rebates and coupons.
Last year saw heavy discounts on e-readers and tablets—as much as $30 off the retail price. And though it's tough to find discounts on every brand, some stores will sweeten the purchase with extra incentives, like free gift cards with purchase.
Gift cards may be the go-to gift for your kid's teacher or your hair stylist, but they can also be a money-saver for you. That's because come Black Friday, retailers often trim the price by a small percentage, Conway says. Best advice? "Stock up on them on Black Friday, then apply to your holiday shopping for the rest of the season," she says.
Hands down, Black Friday is when you'll want to stock up on video games and movies. Conway has spotted DVDs for as little as $2 at some retailers. "The prices for newly released video games are also often slashed by more than 50 percent across all gaming platforms from the major retailers" she adds.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren't the best days to shop for a home office upgrade. "Doorbuster deals for laptops are usually budget laptops ranging from $250 to $300," Conway explains. "But they may not meet the standards for today's savvy and power users." Rather, she advises consumers to shop toward the end of December and beginning of January, when retailers unload their overstock to make room for next year's models.
Sure, circulars are crowded with discounts on the season's hottest toys, but Conway says to hold out until closer to the big day, when prices fall even more. "Toy deals are actually better during the first two weeks of December than on Black Friday or on Cyber Monday," she says. One caveat: If your child has this season's must-have toy on his wish list, buy it early - or you'll run the risk of a frantic search when store inventories start to run low.
Learn more about saving this holiday season with 7 Secrets to Shopping Smarter: How to Save Money on Holiday Gift Ideas.