You’ve barely extinguished your jack-o'-lanterns and still have piles of Halloween candy left to consume — which means it’s also time to get ready for retail’s biggest season. With Thanksgiving and Black Friday falling later in the month than usual (pushing Cyber Monday to December), the shorter holiday shopping season is prompting retailers to lure customers in sooner with teaser deals. Here are some of the best things to buy in November, plus what to pass on this month.
WHAT TO BUY IN NOVEMBER
“There will be a lot of sales activity, but it will be kind of unpredictable and happen in a lot of different categories,” says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge of Truetrae.com. “So it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open and set an online deal alert for any items you have on your list. But, for sure, the biggest sales we see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the electronics category.”
Here’s the breakdown (note that one of these categories is not like the others):
Smart Home Devices. If you’ve been waiting to wire your home with the latest smart home technology — or you’re looking to upgrade ‑— retailers are already offering a raft of pre-holiday deals on everything from Amazon’s Alexa Smart Home Devices to Google Home Assistants to smart hubs, security cameras, speakers, displays, plugs and more.
Apple Products. Expect to see Black Friday deals for the Apple Watch, the iPad Pro and, of course, the new AirPods. iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and Apple TVs from previous years will also go on sale — but look to retail outlets for these bargains. “Apple is typically not that generous with their discounts,” Bodge says. “You can likely find a more appealing deal at say, Walmart, Best Buy or Target.”
Video Consoles. Got a gamer in your life? Black Friday is a great time to score a gaming console bundle, which will include the gaming system, a controller and a game or two — usually for the price of the console or even less. Some of this year’s expected top sellers include PlayStation 4, Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch (both the older and Lite models).
Laptops. If you are looking for a basic laptop, November is typically a good time to upgrade. Black Friday sales tend to have mainstream laptops around the $500 price point while some budget models can go for as low as $100.
Televisions. Just like last year, ultra-high-definition 4K TVs in all size ranges are the hottest items in this category. And you don't have to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to find great deals — unless you have a particular model in mind.
Baking Supplies and Kitchen Essentials. The sugar rush that began with Halloween candy will continue into the holiday baking season: Thanksgiving Day pies are quickly followed by gingerbread people and frosted sugar cookies. Luckily, shoppers can expect to find sweet deals on ingredients including flour, sugar, cake mixes, cookie dough, butter, nuts and canned pumpkin in November. “You’ll likely see a lot of other kitchen essentials, especially countertop appliances, on sale in November as well,” Bodge says. “Retailers are anticipating an uptick in interest in this category because people are preparing for their holiday entertaining.”
WHAT TO SKIP IN NOVEMBER
Toys. This may seem counterintuitive because shopping for kids is usually the priority this time of year, but Bodge says that the deeper toy discounts are expected in December.
The caveat: If your kid has been clamoring for a very specific color, make or model of a toy that is on the hot toy lists from Amazon, Walmart or Target, “it might make sense to get that item sooner rather than later because it’s possible that it could sell out. But those would be the exceptions,” Bodge says.
Gift Cards. Hold off until mid-December before you shell out for these last-minute gift staples — that’s when many stores and restaurants will be discounting their gift cards by up to 20 percent.
Furniture. Furniture stores don’t typically offer Black Friday deals, so don’t expect big discounts here. In January and February, however, they tend to hold their end-of-season sales, where you’ll see clearance pricing on sofas, chairs, bedroom sets, tables and more.
Bedding. Winter is coming, so you may be tempted to snuggle up in new flannel sheets now. But November’s not the best time to shop around for comfy comforters or their counterparts. In January, retailers will hold their white sales, when everything from linens to bedding sets to towels will go on sale. So don’t get out of bed for these items just yet — you’ll find better deals in the New Year.