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. That means that once you know what to look for, figuring out what to expect from Black Friday 2018 is a piece of cake.
Before you get upset at the notion that you've been getting excited about the same deals every year, we want to emphasize that 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, semi-mythical 32” television for $79. 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.
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. Many major retailers only make superficial changes to the ad itself, often reusing the same layout and even the same product photos year after year.
From one year to the next, Target is one of the most reliable Black Friday ads for finding repeated deals. Their clean signature layout makes them easy to spot. You can almost always count on a T-Fal or Farberware cookware set for $49.99, styled and photographed in exactly the same way even when the brands switch. It's a good bet you'll find Rachael Ray cookware as well, priced at $89.99 for a 14-pc set for the last two years, and Pyrex sets that have been $18 on Black Friday for many years now. Even in our side-by-side view, we find throw blankets advertised for $10, similarly photographed in the same colors.
See More: 2018 Target Black Friday Ad
For the past two years, we've highlighted the repeats on small kitchen appliances at Walmart, but this year we were particularly struck by the similar layouts of these pages highlighting vacuum cleaners and sewing machines. The pricing on the vacuums didn't change for on 4 of 5 models shown. It's also interesting that Walmart is using the same page for sewing machines two years in a row, given that pairing vacuums and sewing machines is not necessarily intuitive.
See More: 2018 Walmart Black Friday Ad
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 KitchenAid stand mixers, with most models seeing their lowest prices all year at this time. The prices do change slightly from one year to the next, but they don't change much on the whole and the product photography and layout are nearly always identical to the previous year. Plus, note the same Ninja blenders and food processors on this page. We don’t expect to see any big changes.
See More: 2018 Kohl's Black Friday Ad
Small appliances that are dirt cheap after a mail-in rebate are a Black Friday mainstay at several stores, including Macy's. Here you can see the same models of slow cookers, toaster ovens, small blenders, electric griddles, hand mixers, coffee makers, and more, for exactly the same prices as they were the year before.
See More: 2018 Macy's Black Friday Ad
The styles of these women's boots get tweaked ever so slightly year after year at JCPenney, but otherwise there isn't much that changes – not even the layout.
This is generally true for boots and sweaters from most Black Friday retailers, by the way. You can always count on $39.99 cashmere sweaters from Macy's, for example, and Rampage boots for $19.99 are everywhere you look.
See More: 2018 JCPenney Black Friday Ad
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 XS, XS Max and XR deals are on our radar, too!