The best Black Friday deals are decidedly not worth dying for

The best Black Friday deals are decidedly not worth dying for

This will be a wreck on Black Friday.

This will be a wreck on Black Friday. (Stan Horaczek /)

Heading out into the world to shop on Black Friday is a bad idea this year. COVID cases are spiking and any ill-advised holiday travel is likely to exacerbate the problem. It can be hard to envision all the amazing deals out there that you’ll miss out on by acting responsibly and staying home for Netflix and leftovers. But don’t fret. This year, in-store shopping on Black Friday has lost some of its luster, and you can probably get better deals without having to change out of your pajama pants. Here are a few reasons why you may not be impressed with this year’s day-after-Thanksgiving haul.

The new consoles have arrived

The PS5 and Xbox Series X both just hit store shelves this month, and supplies have been extremely short. Both systems have been selling well above their retail prices on the secondary market and supplies look like they’re going to remain short for the foreseeable future. When Walmart got a restock of the systems last week, it took mere minutes for them to sell out. This week, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Jim Ryan told a Russian news outlet that “absolutely everything is sold,” in regards to the PS5 consoles.

Typically, manufacturers offer deep discounts on video game machines this time of year. And while you may see advertisements touting PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, don’t expect to be able to get one without lots of luck. You may see some deals on older-generation consoles, but the prices on those have mostly bottomed out anyway. You can likely expect to pay near full-price for a console that’s already out of date.

Individual games will go on-sale digitally, as well. Microsoft already lowered the prices on more than 75 games so you can start playing on Thanksgiving after your Zoom turkey dinner. If you want PlayStation games, Sony’s list of sale titles is up already, also.

Of course, there’s also the Nintendo Switch. Since the pandemic started, demand has made Switch consoles difficult to find even at full-price, and retailers aren’t about to drop the price on what stock they do have. Expect to pay full price for a Switch if you can even find one.

We’ve already known about the Black Friday deals for a while now

Last year, Best Buy unveiled its full Black Friday ad on November 7th, which was early. This year, however, the retailer made its Black Friday ad public on October 29th, giving bargain hunters the opportunity to track prices for nearly an entire month against the big box store’s promises. With that much lead time, it’s easy to comparison shop up until the actual day—you can typically find prices as good and sometimes better without having to wait until the day after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday has more competition than ever

Many retailers brag about “Black Friday prices” at various points throughout the year, but now there are more annual shopping holidays than there ever have been. Back in October, Amazon held its week-long Prime Day sales, which third-party sellers on Amazon did more than $3.5 billion in business and Amazon sold “millions” of Alexa and Fire TV devices.

Some deals this year can’t even quite compete with prices on the same product in 2019. Walmart, for instance, is selling Apple Watch Series 3 for $129, which is the exact same price it sold for a year ago.

The Beats PowerBeats Pro headphones are some of the best wireless earbuds on the market at the moment and they will be selling for $169 down from their typical $250 price tag on Black Friday at several stores. But, you can also get limited colors for the same price right now online, and it’s been that way for more than a week.

There’s also Cyber Monday, which arrives directly after the Thanksgiving weekend in the United States. Last year, online retailers did $9.5 billion in business on Cyber Monday in 2019.

Some Black Friday staples are already extremely cheap

Big, cheap HDTVs are the unofficial mascot of Black Friday. It has historically been the day in which you can purchase the most screen real estate for the best deal. Stacks of cheap TVs typically draw customers in, but now you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to get an affordable HDTV. TCL regularly sells a 43-inch TV with the Roku operating system built-in for $219. You can go up to 55 inches and still stay under $300, which seems ridiculous compared to a decade ago.

Streaming boxes and smart speakers are also popular fodder for Black Friday sales, but their prices have come down considerably even without sales. You can already get a redesigned Echo Dot on Amazon for $29 (down from $49) without having to wait.

Walmart is touting the $17 Roku SE Streaming Media Player, which is specifically made for Walmart, but you can already buy it right now if you want.

Even some of the doorbusters that really do seem like great deals lose a bit of their shine once you dig into them. One of Best Buy’s most prominent deals is a 70-inch Samsung 4K HDR TV for $529. For the sheer size of it, yes, it’s cheap. But, you’re only getting a pair of HDMI ports and 60 Hz refresh rate, which means it won’t be able to take advantage of the fancy next-gen features if you get a PS5 or Xbox Series X. Right now, you can get a 75-inch Hisense 4K TV with three HDMI ports built-in for $598 regular price.The Samsung will likely look better than the Hisense, but if your primary concerns are big and cheap, then you don’t have to go out into the pandemic to try to save a few dollars.

While you still have a little time before Black Friday rolls around, check out the deals you might want now and quickly search the web to see how much you’re really saving.

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