Yes, You Really Are Seeing the Same Black Friday Deals Every Year
From one year to the next, the bulk of the Black Friday sales are more or less the same as they were the year before. And before you get upset, this is actually not a bad thing—if we know that certain items and categories will be marked down by the same amount every year, it makes it a lot easier to make up a holiday shopping list and realistic budget.
The doorbusters can vary, but they’re also exactly what you’d expect. You can count on bargain TVs, Beats headphones, iPads paired with store gift cards, etc. You may even hear rumors of Black Friday’s white whale, the elusive nigh mythical 32” television for $99. But since doorbusters are usually constrained by limited inventory that also limit the window opportunity along with the reduced likelihood that they’ll be available to purchase online, chances high are that you won’t be able to get them.
No, the bulk of Black Friday’s sales, the real meat of them, the stuff we actually get excited for, lies beyond the doorbusters. Look beyond page 1 of the ads and you’ll find plenty of genuine deals on just about everything under the sun, even if they are more than a little predictable.
Last year’s Black Friday deals are this year’s Black Friday deals.
Just as it was when we covered this story last year, never is this predictability so obvious as when you actually compare the ads side by side. In fact, most major retailer only make superficial changes to the ad itself, often reusing the same layout year after year.
The Razor scooter has been featured in Target’s Black Friday ad since 2008, when it debuted for $22. It’s bounced between $17 and $19 for most of the last seven years.
The black luggage set has been listed at $49 for at least the last three years. Target also likes putting air mattresses and ping pong tables on this same page, though prices on these do vary more.
It’s a given that Walmart will have a set of countertop appliances for $9 plus some change, and the cents change more than the gadgets ever do. Side by side, we see a griddle, slow cooker, and coffee maker repeating over the last three years, and the same set of stainless steel mixing bowls for the last two.
Kohl’s is consistent with its annual promotion of giving $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent, up from the $10 per $50 that you get throughout the rest of the year, and we always look forward to it. Also, Black Friday is one of the best times to buy Fiesta dishes, with this same set going for $23.99 for at least the last three years. Plus, note the same chips and dip set featured on all three ads. We don’t expect to see any big changes.
Electronics can be really difficult to compare from one year to the next since features and models change and evolve so quickly, but hardware and audio equipment tends to be pretty steady. On the top halves of these two Black Friday ads from Best Buy, the Klipsch speakers are priced exactly the same, and the sound bars are all in the same ballpark from 2014 to 2015, even if the brands and models are different.
For this luggage from Macy’s, the ad features the same luggage at the same prices using the same layout as in 2014. For what it’s worth, Black Friday really is consistently a great time to buy luggage.
Once again we see identical layouts and products from one year to the next, though JCPenney did drop the prices on a few items in 2015.
What Else Can You Expect from Black Friday?
As the holiday shopping season gets closer, we'll be posting more detailed analysis of what you can expect both from your favorite stores and items like televisions, gaming bundles, travel, and more—and yes, the iPhone 7 deals are on our radar, too!