Did some of your favorite places make 2021’s Best Places to Shop on Black Friday?

For many, Black Friday has become a tradition as would-be shoppers spend hours scouring ads, looking for the best deals on everything from toys, to clothes, to jewelry. In some places, the frenzy becomes a full-contact sport that turns into a melee and even a downright brawl.

With Black Friday sales starting earlier this year and most consumers planning to shop online rather than in-store, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2021’s Best Places to Shop on Black Friday, as well as expert commentary.

WalletHub surveyed nearly 5,000 deals from 21 of the biggest U.S. retailers’ 2021 Black Friday ad scans to identify the stores offering the biggest discounts in various product categories such as “Appliances,” “Jewelry” and “Toys.”

The following are some highlights from the report:

Best Black Friday Retailers (Avg. % Discount)

  1. Macy’s (58.51%)
  2. JCPenney (57.63%)
  3. Belk (56.69%)
  4. Kohl’s (49.32%)
  5. Office Depot and OfficeMax (42.85%)
  6. Lenovo (40.29%)
  7. Nordstrom (33.21%)
  8. Walmart (31.60%)
  9. HP (31.34%)
  10. Big Lots (29.19%)

Key Stats

  • Macy’s has the highest overall discount rate at 58.51 percent, whereas Ace Hardware has the lowest at 11.73 percent.
  • The overall average discount for Black Friday is 32 percent. Consumers should aim for this discount amount or higher to avoid Black-Friday traps.
  • The “Apparel & Accessories” category has one of the biggest shares of discounted items, 18.40 percent of all offers, whereas the “Consumer Packaged Goods” category has the smallest at 3.47 percent.

Expert Commentary

How can consumers protect themselves from overspending on Black Friday?

“Pay Cash or set a budget and shop with a list. It is true what they say if you go to the grocery store with a list you spend less. The same is true with gifts. Also, shop over the previous year, buy next year’s holiday goods after the holidays. I always have my Christmas shopping done in July because I buy off-season. You get more for your money that way!”
— Joseph H. Hancock, II, M.S., Ph.D. – Professor, Drexel University

“Since the Black Friday sales start way before the day after thanksgiving, begin to pay attention to the sales early. Prepare your shopping list for gifts and only shop for those items. On your list indicate how much you can spend on each gift and not how much you want to spend on them. Many people have begun to stay away from the black Friday sales because they tend to spend too much and buy stuff they do not need. They buy gift cards instead. Another thing to remember is the best deals this year are usually the same deals for next year. So you can look to last year’s deals to see what was on sale and were doorbusters. Also, most of the time doorbusters are off-brand products that may not be the best quality.”
— Vanessa P. Jackson – Professor, University of Kentucky

How can consumers distinguish between real Black Friday deals and marketing traps?

“One, lots of research across multiple online websites, including price comparisons and user reviews. Two, be aware that increasingly, more and more products have two-tier pricing. For instance, a printer needs cartridges, but Thanksgiving deals often promote only the printer. Do not get enticed by the main unit without considering the cost it will take to maintain the product going forward. Again, do all the proper research, and figure out the cost of maintaining the product going forward. Lastly, develop a reference price in mind. Especially if you have purchased the product online in a previous Thanksgiving sale, it is very easy to find out what the final price was you paid for a similar product. This way, you are not relying on the retailers’ claims of how much they are discounting; you are making the comparison and judging whether it is a fair deal on your own.”
— Rebecca Jen-Hui Wang, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Lehigh University; Research Scholar, Northwestern University

“Consumers should…be aware of pricing traps. Do your research because some stores stop price matching on Black Friday weekend. That said, some stores will also raise the price of an item, change the tags and then lower the price for the weekend. When this happens and you travel to another store, find a lower price and go back for an adjustment…the store is not price matching throughout the Black Friday weekend. Terrible experience for customers on a limited income who are serious about watching their spending.”
—Vanessa P. Jackson – Professor, University of Kentucky

What are some tips for maximizing bargains on Black Friday?
“There are some e-commerce websites and credit card companies that give cashback for purchases consumers made through their website. This is an additional discount on top of bargains on Black Friday. Another tip includes signing up for emails for additional discounts (typically 10-20% for the first purchase). This will help a lot, especially for big-ticket items.”
— Byoungho “Ellie” Jin, Ph.D. – President, International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA); Professor, North Carolina State University

“Before Black Friday arrives, formulate a plan. What are you looking for? What is your budget? Make a list. (Check it twice.) Read consumer advice columns. I have been reading The Strategist and The Wirecutter lately. But many reputable sites have a track record for offering thoughtful advice about quality and price.”
— Penne L. Restad, Ph.D. – Senior Lecturer, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas; Distinguished Senior Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin



Image Sources

  • Black Friday frenzy over TVs: Shutterstock