Make no mistake: Black Friday will be full of killer deals. But while stellar sales on wine and cars may surprise and delight you, there are some items that only see minor discounts — or no discounts at all. Black Friday sales are time-sensitive, so wasting precious minutes looking for a deal that may not appear could make you miss a killer doorbuster. In the interest of keeping you on track, we've rounded up 11 product categories that consistently under-perform during Black Friday.
Whether it's furniture deals you should have grabbed in the summer or gift cards that'll be cheaper in December, read on to discover the items that Black Friday forgot.
Home & Patio Furniture
It's rare for a product category to go almost completely ignored on Black Friday, but such is the case with furniture. In fact, many high-end furniture shops don't even hold Black Friday sales. This is because most retailers heavily discount these items in the warmer months, with home furniture seeing a huge spike in deals in July and August, and patio furniture clearance sales dominating in August and September.
Chocolates & Flowers
It is perhaps unsurprising that gifts like chocolates and flowers don't see much in the way of deals during Black Friday. The perishable nature of these treats makes them better suited for purchase close to a gift-giving holiday. While we did see a small spike in these deals during the 2013 Black Friday season, overall November 2013 saw the fewest offers in this category all year. Instead, wait to buy your flowers and chocolates closer to the biggest romantic gifting days of the year — Christmas and Valentine's Day.
The holiday season is a minefield for calorie counters, so buying a treadmill during Black Friday may feel like prudent planning. But our research shows you'd be better served by waiting a few weeks. While we do see a decent number of sporty deals during Black Friday, November is overall among the worst months to make a purchase in this category. However, December consistently sees an uptick in both the quantity of exercise equipment offers and the quality. Last year, almost 30% of December sports deals were hot enough to be marked Editors' Choice — compare that to just 15% in November.
Airfare & Vacation Packages
Despite the fact that hotel sites offer superior discounts on Black Friday, this just isn't the time to book a flight or plan a vacation. Over the past three years, a dismal 11% of Black Friday airfare deals were marked Editors' Choice during the shopping holiday — and only 8% of vacation packages earned the distinction. Those averages are virtually indistinguishable from the numbers we see throughout the rest of the year. Instead, plan travel of any sort in January, as that month typically boasts a higher number of deals.
Brand-Name Smart TVs
Black Friday made its name on killer TV prices, but that doesn't mean every TV sees super deals during the shopping holiday. Premium smart TVs usually hang out at the top of the price spectrum anyway, and these in-demand sets are less likely to see doorbuster discounts during Black Friday. So when should you look for one of these sets? Brand-name TVs tend to see better prices after the Consumer Electronics Show (held every January in Las Vegas), when manufacturers reveal their TV lineups for the new year. That said, in 2013 the best 55" name-brand TV deal came in September — and it was 10% cheaper than November's best deal.
It's not at all uncommon to find gift card deals during Black Friday, but this is one of those product categories where a little patience goes a long way. Discounted gift cards practically rain from the sky in December, especially those from iTunes. Last year, we saw so many gift card deals in December, we had to publish a weekly feature just to keep track of them all.
Like several other entries on this list, tools won't be totally skippable on Black Friday. After all, Black Friday is still the best time all year to score really cheap hand tools. However, as we mentioned in our November buying guide, the month of December actually has the edge in tool sales. Last year, we listed 16% more tool offers in December than in November.
The Black Friday season makes November the best month of the year for buying a laptop ... unless you're in the market for a real powerhouse. High-performance machines that boast a powerful CPU like Intel's Core i7 models actually see better prices during the summer back-to-school sales. July and September tend to be the standout months for these rigs, with deals that are 9% cheaper (about $50 on average) than even November's best deals.
Latest Fire Tablets
Amazon recently refreshed its whole Fire tablet lineup, which means we'll certainly see sales on the old Kindles. However, history has proven that it's all but impossible to find a deal on recently-released Amazon tablets during Black Friday. We saw a couple discounts (yep, two deals total) on the then-new Kindle Fire HDX during Cyber Week last year, but we're not holding our breath for any earth-shaking offers in 2014.
Label lovers should stick to the outlets on Black Friday, because luxury clothiers traditionally offer very little to deal-seeking fashionistas. To be fair, designer brands don't really "do" sales any other time of the year. You have only to look at Coach's struggles to understand why labels are afraid of devaluing their brand with discounts. If you can't bear the thought of skipping a high-end sale, expect to see yawn-worthy discounts of 20% to 30% off — and only on Black Friday itself.
Here's a category that actually sees a lot of discounts during Black Friday, but is nevertheless worth passing up. November is a winter month, so winter clothing is obviously in-stock everywhere at this time. As we noted previously, excellent sitewide coupons will lead to some serious discounts on all kinds of apparel, including in-season coats, boots, and more. However, you'll see the best deals on these items during winter clearance sales in January through March.
Readers, have we dashed your Black Friday dreams? Or are you still determined to find an amazing airfare deal on Thanksgiving and grab a fistful of gift cards from Cyber Monday deals? Share your shopping strategies in the comments below!