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Thanksgiving vs. Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: What to Buy Each Day

Shop for TVs on Thanksgiving, smaller electronics on Black Friday, and clothing on Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is held up as the ultimate shopping day, but Thanksgiving actually offers more awesome deals. Of course, there are great sales to be found throughout the Black Friday season, with Cyber Monday deals adding their fair share of savings to the mix.

However, if you're looking for a specific type of product, it's hard to know whether Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday will give you the best chance to score that bargain.

Because most shoppers will be looking for deals on these three days specifically, we gathered data from the past four years of Thanksgivings, Black Fridays, and Cyber Mondays to determine which day offered the best sales on any given product category. From TVs to toys to tablets, we've got the skinny on when you're most likely to find a killer price low on anything.

But before we get to the results, let's discuss the amorphous blob of time that Black Friday has become.

Black Friday is a Season

We often refer to this time of year as the "Black Friday season." We've been tracking the expansion of Black Friday for years, and at this point the sales have grown to encompass nearly two weeks. Thanksgiving deals can start as early as the Monday before, Black Friday sales almost universally start on Thanksgiving, and we'll begin seeing Cyber Monday sales on Saturday. In fact, Cyber Monday has become Cyber Week, with excellent offers still appearing as late as the Friday after Black Friday.

So as you're reading the guide below, keep in mind that we're discussing trends as opposed to hard and fast rules. The savvy shopper will keep an eye out for discounts throughout the Black Friday season — no matter what the calendar says.

That said, on to the findings!

Black Friday sales

Ditch the Turkey, Get the Doorbuster

We can't stress this enough: If you can only shop on one day this year, go shopping on Thanksgiving. Of all the product categories listed above, half show a higher concentration of Editors' Choice deals on Turkey Day. This is especially true in the big-ticket electronics categories, where everything from TVs to iPads sees steep discounts. In fact, about 41% of all the deals we listed on Thanksgiving last year were hot enough to be marked Editors' Choice.

Of course, these Thanksgiving deals are really just early Black Friday deals. With many stores choosing to start Black Friday sales on Thursday, there's little wonder that this holiday has become a shopper's dream. If you'd rather linger over your pumpkin pie, rest assured that many of these sales will be available online. And many will be live on Black Friday — even if the doorbusters are gone.

So what's your Black Friday game plan? Will you concentrate your savings on a single day? Are you aiming for just one store, like Amazon or Walmart? Share your strategies in the comments below!

And if you're excited for Black Friday deals, consider subscribing to the DealNews Select Newsletter to get a daily recap of all our deals; you never know when a Black Friday price will be released! You can also download the DealNews app, check out the latest Black Friday ads, or read more buying advice.


Marcy pens consumer news stories of all sorts, in addition to adding pithy prose to many of the roundups you see every day. Her work for DealNews has appeared on sites like Lifehacker, the Huffington Post, and MSN Money. She is by far the most metal member of the DealNews staff, and you can see why by following her on Twitter @ThatBonebright.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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1 comment
Scroogus Maximus
Hmmm: Reward the corporate weasels for forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving, a holiday specifically created by Abraham Lincoln (at the persistent behest of Sarah Hale) to give thanks with family and friends for all the blessings received from God to our nation? I think not. What many retailers have realized: Being open on Thanksgiving is a slap in their employees' faces. Black Friday is bad enough without knowing you have to tell your spouse, kids, friends, relatives, etc., "Sorry, my boss is a jerk, and says I HAVE to price-label junk all day today instead of spending time with the people who are the reason I go to work in the first place." One trend I'll support: Retailers who refused to open on Thanksgiving this year. Putting money where my heart is- because putting money where your mouth is merely increases your chances of catching some nasty disease off that $20 bill, that's why!