Costco (NASDAQ:COST) and Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) Sam's Club tend to operate outside the usual retail norms.

Both companies are warehouse clubs offering no-frills shopping experiences to members who pay an annual fee for the privilege of shopping in their stores. The two chains offer value on an everyday basis, partly by limiting selection, and partly by offering some items in bulk quantities.

To many, these chains are known for offering good value on grocery items, household goods, and health and beauty supplies. That's certainly part of the appeal of both Sam's and Costco, but the two chains also sell electronics, appliances, clothes, toys, and even beds, furniture, and a variety of other items.

Even though both warehouse clubs make low prices a core part of their everyday offering, it doesn't mean they don't turn up the deals for the holidays. Costco and Sam's Club will both keep their doors closed on Thanksgiving Day, when so many traditional retailers will be open, but both will open on Black Friday (Costco at 9 a.m., Sam's at 7 a.m.).

Sam's Club and Costco will have holiday supplies as well as Black Friday deals. Image source: Sam's Club.

What is Costco doing on Black Friday?

Both chains, of course, already have launched some seasonal deals, and will continue to do that through the entire holiday selling season. Costco though does have a specific set of deals which it will begin selling in stores on Black Friday. Those offers will remain in effect through the warehouse club closing its doors on Sunday, Nov. 28, "while supplies last," according to the company's website.

For Black Friday, as has been the case in past years, the chain will be leaning very heavily on electronics deals. Those include $50 off on a Microsoft Xbox One bundle and $50 off a similar Sony PlayStation 4 deal. It also has laptop deals, and savings on an array of technology/computer accessories.

In addition to the expected deals, Costco also has a few deals which might help people celebrate the holiday season such as $8 off a vacuum-packaged whole boneless pork loin and $4 off light spheres (for seasonal decorating). The chain also has a number of other special offers including:

  • $400 off 1.40ctw Princess Cut Diamond Stud Earrings VS2 clarity in 14 kt white gold
  • $800 off a Venezia 4-Piece Top Grain Leather set or sectional with ottoman
  • $1000 off an Aquaterra Spas Montecito 45-jet, 6-person spa
  • $10 off a set of 4 $25 Build-A-Bear Workshop gift cards
  • $500 off a Vinotemp 155-Bottle Dual-Zone Connoisseur Series wine cooler
The above selection is just a small handful of the deals being offered, but they are typical of the seeming randomness of the selection Costco will have.

What is Sam's Club Doing this Black Friday?

Like its rival, Sam's will be heavy on the electronics with appliances and other items mixed in. The warehouse club, like Costco will offer its Black Friday deals through the weekend, but won't be offering rain checks if supplies run out. In addition to the items listed below, the warehouse club's full list of Black Friday deals can be seen on its website.
These are some of the highlights:
  • PlayStation 4 Uncharted 4 bundle, $249
  • Xbox One S Battlefield Bundle or Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle with bonus controller, $249
  • Robot Roomba 665 robot vacuum, $269.98
  • Seiko Melodies in Motion wall clock, $79.99
  • HP 15.6" notebook with Intel Core i7 processor, $499
  • GoPro HERO4 Silver Action camera bundle, $199
  • Nikon D3400 2 Lens DSLR Bundle, $499

Unlike Costco, Sam's Club has elected to show prices in its promotions and not savings total. That's a six of one half dozen of the other choice -- few consumers believe company claims of huge percentage off deals, assuming the list price was inflated in the first place.

Are warehouse clubs a good idea on Black Friday?

In general shopping at Costco or Sam's Club can save you money, but it's not a given that it always will. The same is true on Black Friday where in some cases, maybe many, both chains offer very good, even better deals than other retailers.

It's important for consumers -- whether it be the holidays or any other time of year -- to check whether a supposed deal is actually a good value. That's relatively easy to do using apps or checking Black Friday ads (even though slightly different model numbers can muddy the waters).

Costco and Sam's Club make sense for shoppers looking for big-ticket items at deal prices. They should also offer a less-awful shopping experience on the big day as the two warehouse clubs won't be the first choice for many shoppers.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.