On Black Friday, retailers want you to believe that every single item in the store is on sale. And when you see discounts galore and "sale" signs everywhere, it's tempting to buy as much as you can to snag all the great deals.
However, not everything is truly on sale on Black Friday. Some items really are deeply discounted, and these are the deals that Black Friday is all about. But there are plenty of other products that may seem like they're on sale when in reality, you're better off buying them some other time of year.
Oftentimes, the best time to buy toys is right before Christmas. Retailers will usually offer major price cuts the closer it gets to the holidays, so Black Friday isn't always the optimal time to buy toys for the kids.
If you're looking to buy one of the hottest toys of the year and you're worried it will sell out quickly, you might have no choice but to buy it as early as you can (potentially at a higher price). But if you're not looking for anything in particular, you can typically save a lot of money on the toys that are left on the shelves if you wait until the final days before Christmas to shop.
2. Outdoor items
The best time to score deals on lawnmowers, patio furniture, and other outdoor essentials is typically at the end of the summer when stores are trying to clear out the rest of their inventory before autumn arrives. By Black Friday, even if retailers still have outdoor items in stock, it will likely only be the scraps leftover from summer -- which may not be worth buying anyway.
If you desperately need new outdoor essentials and you can't wait until the end of next summer, keep an eye out for sales in the early spring. Some stores will have a Spring Black Friday event -- typically around April -- with discounts on everything you need to get ready for summer.
3. Exercise equipment
You may want to get a head start on your New Year's resolution by buying a new treadmill or elliptical machine on Black Friday, but January is usually the best time to snag those deals -- especially on big-ticket items.
Some retailers may advertise deals on exercise equipment during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and it can be tough to decide whether you should buy it now or wait a month or two and see if there are better deals then. Before you buy anything, check the return policy at the store you're considering. If you can buy the item now and then return it in January if you find a better deal elsewhere, that might be an option to make sure you're saving as much money as possible.
4. Christmas decor
Once Thanksgiving is over, you may be ready to go full-force into Christmas mode -- which can make it tempting to buy all the trees, lights, and other Christmas decoration on Black Friday. While you'll likely see a lot of decor for sale, it probably won't be at the lowest prices of the season.
Instead, wait until it gets closer to Christmas to buy decorations and other holiday items, like wrapping paper and gift boxes. Typically the closer it gets to Christmas, the cheaper these items will be. The days after Christmas are usually the best opportunity to stock up on everything you need for next year, because prices will be slashed significantly.
5. Winter clothing
When it comes to coats, boots, and other winter gear, retailers usually offer deals at the beginning of the season (think early fall) and the end of the season (late winter). Black Friday falls right in the middle of that window, and because these items are in high demand as temperatures drop, that means stores likely won't be offering the best deals.
That's not to say you won't see any deals, though, so if you're in desperate need of a new coat or pair of boots, you might be able to find some sales if you shop on Black Friday. But if you can wait until the late winter or early spring to upgrade your wardrobe, you might be able to save some money.
Bonus: Anything you don't need
It can be tempting to buy something on Black Friday just because it's on sale, but if you're buying stuff you don't need, you're not actually getting a good deal. To make the most of Black Friday, you'll need a strategy.
Before you head out shopping, make a list of exactly what you want to buy -- and stick to it. It's also a good idea to have back-up items on your list as well, in case your first picks are sold out. This is especially important if you're buying big-ticket items. If you're planning on buying a new TV, for instance, and the model you want is out of stock, you may not have time to research the next best choice while you're in the store. If you end up buying a different brand because it's on sale, you could get home and realize it's not what you really wanted. By going into Black Friday with a few back-up choices you've already researched, you can ensure you get what you want at the best price possible.
Black Friday can be stressful and overwhelming, and stores will usually try to convince you that you need to buy everything that day. In reality, though, you'll sometimes find better deals if you wait. By establishing a shopping strategy before the big day, you can snag the real deals and avoid the fake ones.