Electronics, including laptops, are one of the top-selling Black Friday items. And because they’re higher-priced than many other electronic items, laptops tend to get some of the biggest discounts.
But how do you know if that computer you’re considering on Black Friday is as good a deal as the store makes it sound?
Let’s look at 7 secrets to finding the best deal on Black Friday.
A Brief History of Black Friday Deals
Black Friday goes back to the 1950s when Philadelphia police officers started calling it that. Not because of the deals that were available — because of the chaos that reigned with the influx of shoppers and tourists.
The craziness meant the police couldn’t take the day off, hence the name “Black” Friday.
By the early 1960s, the shopping day was a big hit in Philadelphia. The city tried to change the name to “Big Friday” but it never caught on.
It didn’t spread to the rest of the country until the mid-1980s. And many other countries have only joined the party in the last few years.
While there’s a long history behind the shopping event, many people don’t approach it strategically. The following tips will help you find the best deals if you’re in the market for a new laptop.
1. Plan Your Purchase Ahead of Time
If you’re planning to pick up a new laptop on Black Friday, do your homework ahead of time. Decide what kind of specifications you need in a laptop, including:
- Wireless networking
- Graphics card
Knowing what type of laptop you need will help you avoid a lot of noise on Black Friday. You can focus on finding the deals that best suit your needs.
Check prices ahead of time as well. You won’t know if you’re getting a good deal or not unless you know what the normal prices are.
Are the Black Friday sales any cheaper than you’ve seen the laptop you’re considering at other times? If not, there’s no rush to grab it on Black Friday. If the seller dropped the price in the past, chances are good they’ll do it again.
2. Only Buy Things You Need
It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying things simply because they’re on sale for Black Friday. Keep in mind that you’re not saving money if you buy something you wouldn’t have bought otherwise. Even if it’s 50 percent off, you’re spending the other 50 percent.
That’s not saving money.
The same thing goes for choosing a laptop. You’ll often see discount PC “door crasher” sales on websites selling laptops. These super-cheap deals are usually a discontinued model or underpowered for most uses.
Don’t buy something just because it has a big discount. You’ll probably end up fighting with it every time you use it because it’s too slow, doesn’t have enough memory, or has limited storage space.
This applies to higher-end laptops as well. Don’t get caught up in the moment and buy a more powerful laptop that you need. You might get a bigger discount but you’ll still pay more than you need to.
3. Shop Online Rather Than In-Store
Stores like Best Buy and Walmart are famous for their Black Friday sales. People line up overnight or even for more than 24 hours to be one of the first through the door.
If you have the time to kill, that might get you a limited-quantity door crasher item but it could also get you caught in the middle of a stampede of Black Friday shoppers.
Rather than fight those crowds, shop online from the comfort of home. Most of the deals available in-store will be on the store’s website as well and sometimes they’ll have web-only specials.
Most major brand names of laptops, like HP and Lenovo, offer their entire line of computers online. You’ll usually have more choices there than you would in-store anyway.
This also lets you shop in several stores at the same time. There’s no way to do that in person. We’ll share a tip for comparing stores quickly further down the page.
4. Don’t Worry About Missing Out
One of the psychological tricks that drive a lot of Black Friday buyers is FOMO — the Fear Of Missing Out.
Stores make it sound like there are hardly any products left. Laptop companies plaster warnings all over their site that quantities are limited.
These tactics are there to make you buy faster, so you don’t miss out on the deal.
Sure, there might be limited quantities but sellers want to sell as many laptops and other sale items as possible. They’re in this to make money and only having a handful of a particular product in stock isn’t the way to do that.
If you do wind up missing out on the laptop you wanted, don’t let it bother you. Keep shopping on other websites to see if you can find another similar deal or see if you can backorder it at the sale price.
Worst case, you’ll have to find another option. But rest assured, there are plenty of other choices online.
5. Set Up Your Browser for Easy Multitasking
If you plan to compare several brands or models of laptop or you want to track stock on more than one store, you can open several browser windows — one for each site.
This lets you shop around without having to constantly browse to a new site. You can simply switch to one of the other browser windows and refresh the page to see what’s changed.
This is a good way to compare different brands as well. Most laptop sellers let you compare several models of their own but they don’t typically let you compare directly against the competition.
By opening several browser windows, you can have the specifications for each machine in its own window and compare them side-by-side. This is a good way to pick out small differences that may not be obvious at first glance.
6. Check Aggregator Websites
Another good way to compare prices is to use aggregator websites. These are sites that track down all the best Black Friday deals and list them in a single place
Sites like Tom’s Guide update the list throughout the day, with links to the products it talks about. They typically either remove or highlight the items that are sold out so you don’t have to waste your time looking for something that you can’t get.
The best sites group the deals by category so you can go straight to the Computer or Electronics section to find a laptop.
7. Don’t Forget About Cyber Monday
If you don’t find the deal you want on Black Friday, don’t forget about Cyber Monday. It’s the Monday following Black Friday.
In the early days of the internet, before a lot of people had high-speed connections at home, they would shop online once they were back at work on Monday. Most people have high-speed internet at home but the tradition is still going.
Some stores carry their Black Friday deals through to Cyber Monday while others launch an entirely new sale. In some cases, you might find even better deals on Cyber Monday so don’t despair if you miss out on a Friday special or can’t find a laptop that suits your needs.
Days Become Weeks
As the years go by, these sales tend to get longer and longer. Black Friday sales often start earlier in that week and some stores are running “Cyber Week” sales now, not just Monday.
They’re in business to sell products and make money so they’re doing everything they can to get more people to buy. That gives you a lot more flexibility so don’t feel like you have to find the right laptop immediately.
Finding the Best Deal Takes Some Preparation
Finding the best deal takes some time on Black Friday but most of your time should go towards preparing ahead of time. Especially for a laptop or any other purchase that costs several hundred dollars.
The time and effort you put into researching and preparing will pay off over several years. If you buy the right laptop, you should get 3 to 4 years of use from it.
Make sure you check out the Technology category on our blog for more helpful articles about getting the most from your technology gear.