Let’s pretend that life is a movie for just a second, and you need to prepare yourself for the madness that is the most anticipated and heavily trafficked (in person and digital) shopping event of the year: Black Friday.
Consider this your training montage.
Just like a four-star general wouldn’t go to battle without a clear strategy, several back-up plans, and a thorough knowledge of the terrain and the enemy, we’re not going to let you wake up, blearily unlock your phone, and charge in blind on the 29th. Every year, retailers compete to have the most enticing deals and sales. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the deluge and panic-buy a bunch of stuff you don’t really need (or click on what looks like a good deal but isn’t).
The best way to weather Black Friday and emerge victorious is to have a clear goal (what you want) and a little insight into your opponent.
That’s where we come in.
We’ve been tracking Black Friday sales since the early days of Primer. And we’ve noticed that most retailers tend to pick a deal structure and stick with it. Companies plan out their Black Friday sales months in advance, and they’re probably not going to offer 35% off of full-price items one year and then 60% off clearance the next.
For example, Banana Republic has done some variation of “50% off” for the last 3 years.
We’re giving you the tactical advantage with our Black Friday comparison chart compiled from the deals we featured from 2015-2018, which should help you gauge what you can reasonably expect from your favorite brands.
How to Actually Get a Good Deal on Black Friday
Let's start with the number one, most important buying tip that always applies: Buying something you don't need just because it's on sale isn't a good deal.
Unlike a lot of sales throughout the year that come up unannounced, unless you follow retail industry trends, we know the year's best discounts are coming on the day after Thanksgiving. Knowing that, and armed with the information in the table below, you now have a full week to think about what you actually need so you can buy it for the cheapest price all year.
This is when many companies have deals without exclusions. So if there’s a large-ticket item that you know you’ll need in the next few months (like a suit), or there's a splurge purchase like a leather jacket, which are excluded from normal sales, jump on it now rather than paying more at a later date.
If you're like me, when you start poking around the Primer Black Friday gift guide that morning, you probably aren't mentally prepared to drop $250 on a leather jacket, so instead you buy a bunch of $10 pocket tees and a pair of jeans for 50% off.
But with a little bit of thinking ahead of time, it may make sense to finally pull the trigger on that suede trucker jacket if it's at an all-time low price.
How to Shop Tactically
Since Black Friday is one of the few annual promotions that retailers offer their highest discount or have no exclusions, that makes it the smart time to look at:
- Higher quality brands / material compositions than you can normally afford
- Higher quality secondary buys like premium underwear, socks, and ties
- Nicer brands like Taylor Stitch that rarely do sales outside of BF
So think about what you need or have been wanting and use Black Friday to buy it at a cheaper price, or to buy a better version at a price you can afford.
If there’s one retailer that’s known for its dizzying array of special sales and pricing, it’s Amazon. We do a round-up every year, and can say the safe bet is you should think about upgrading accessories like watches and belts, as well as sneakers and outerwear. Of course, Amazon devices are going to be featured, and popular home gadgets like Sous vide machines, air fryers, Instapots, etc., frequently get industry-leading discounts.
Be sure to check back with us next week for our deals post–
We’ll keep you updated with the best sales and prices on tech, apparel, home goods, and more. You can head to Primer's homepage Black Friday morning for the full guide, or better yet, subscribe to our newsletter to get first dibs. Forewarned is forearmed!
This chart is based on the deals we tracked in the previous years. Cells with a “/” are missing because we chose not to feature that retailer in a particular year. Many sites have already started Black Friday promotions, but we've found the best deals still start on the day after Thanksgiving.
The Last 4 Years of Black Friday Promotions
|Retailer||Black Friday 2018||Black Friday 2017||Black Friday 2016||Black Friday 2015|
|Abercrombie & Fitch||50% off everything + free shipping||up to 50% off||/||/|
|Aldo||50% off sale items||/||50% off full price styles||20% off full price styles|
|Alpha Industries||/||Up to 50% off||/||/|
|Allen Edmonds||Extra 20% off with code CYBER20||Select models $199 + $50 off select boots||50% off Black Friday styles||50% off Black Friday styles|
|Allsaints||30% off everything||/||/||/|
|Amazon||$25 Watches, $21 New Balances, $12 Flannels, $32 Levi’s 511 + Devices & More||Up to 60% off (11/21-11/24)||Extra 30% off select shoes, watches, and clothing||30% off clothing, watches, jewelry and more|
|American Eagle||/||/||40% off + Free Shipping / All sweaters and flannels $25||40% off holiday collection plus free blanket with purchase of $75|
|ASOS||25% off everything with code EPIC25||30% off everything||/||/|
|Banana Republic||50% off everything + free shipping||50% off regular and sale items||50% Off 5 Items / no exclusions||Half off sweaters and 40% off the rest of your purchase – code: BRFRIDAY|
|Banana Republic Factory||/||/||50-70% off||50-70% off|
|Best Made Co.||25% off sitewide with code 25×24||/||/|
|Birchbox||/||/||10% Off for everyone: 10FORALL / 15% off for subscribers: 15FORSUBS||25% off order of $35 or more – code: BIGDEAL|
|Bonobos||35% off everything with code MONDAY||25% off of an order of $150+ or 30% off of an order of $250+ in store and online||Up to 30% off sitewide: TGIBF||Up to 30% off sitewide|
|Brooklinen||10% off $250+, 15% off $350+, 20% off $450+||Spend $150 and get a free $35 scented candle of your choice.||/||/|
|Brooks Brothers||4 select shirts for $199||4 select shirts for $199||4 shirts for $199||4 for $199 dress shirts + 30% off sweaters|
|Clarks||30% off select styles with code CYBER||/||/||/|
|Club Monaco||40% off sale with code CMCYBERMONDAY18, plus 25% off $150+, 30% off $250+, 35% off $400+||25% off $150, 30% off $250, 35% off $400 with code SHOPFRIDAY||25% off $150, 30% off $250, 35% off $400 with code THANKS||25% off $150, 30% off $250, 35% off $400 with code THANKFUL|
|Cole Haan||50% off everything, plus extra 10% off with code CYBER||30% to 50% off select styles||50% certain styles||50% certain styles, 30% off everything else|
|Daniel Wellington||free strap with any watch + 50% off Dapper collection + 20% off sets||/||/||/|
|Dockers||/||/||Up to 50% off sitewide||Up to 60% off sitewide|
|DSTLD||25% off storewide with code BLACKFRIDAY||/||/||/|
|East Dane||15% off $200+, 20% off $500+, 25% off $800+ with code MORE18||Up to 70% off sale items and 30% off full-price items||15% off $200+, 20% off $500+, 25% off $800+ with code GOBIG16||15% off $250+, 20% off $500+, 25% off $1000 with code GOBIG15|
|Eddie Bauer||50% off your purchase with code CYBER50||/||/||/|
|Express||50% off everything + free shipping||50% off everything + free shipping||50% off everything + free shipping||50% off everything|
|Fjallraven||20% off select styles||/||/||/|
|Florsheim||50% off select styles with code CYBM||25% Off site-wide||25% off sitewide – code: TGIVING16||20% off sitewide – code: TGIVING15.|
|Frank and Oak||50% off bestsellers, 30% off everything else with code CYBERMONDAY30||30% off for Black Friday; 35% off for Cyber Monday||/||250+ styles 60% off|
|Finish Line||20% off online orders + free shipping with code CYBER20||/||/||/|
|Fossil||Up to 70% off sale styles for online orders only, 30% off full-priced styles with code CYBER30||/||/||/|
|Gap||50% off everything with code CYBER + extra 10% plus free shipping with code YOURS||50% off everything with code BLKFRIDAY + extra 10% off with code JUST4YOU||50% off with TGIF50||50% off everything with code: EARLY|
|Gap Factory||/||/||50-70% off||50-70% off everything|
|Grant Stone||B Grades and Discontinued items up to 50% off retail.||/||/||/|
|Grayers||/||30% off site wide||/||/|
|Greats||25% off with code HOLIDAZE||/||/||/|
|H&M||30% off everything + free shipping||Up to 30% off||20% off with Free Shipping / $3 deals up to 70% OFF: Code 5188||Deals from $4.99 and 20% off with code: 3231|
|Huckberry||Up to 50% Off + free shipping||20-55% Off Exclusive Deals on 2017 Best Sellers||Black Friday events / Select sale items||Armogan Spirit of St. Louise 20% off|
|Indochino||Up to 70% off with code CYBMON||Save up to 70% site-wide and in stores.||Up to 70% off: BLKFRI||Save up to 70% – Code: BLKFRI|
|Jay Butler||50% off Naples driving loafers and handbags (JBCM18) 20% of Cromwell & Shipley loafers, belts, wallets, duffels, ties, and more (JBBF18) 10% off all Millbank loafers (BFbits18)||/||/||/|
|J.Crew||60% off sale styles + 50% off everything else with code CYBER (online only)||40% off most regular prices items + 40%-50% off sale items with code THANKU||40% off + free shipping over $150 or $5 flat rate||30% off purchase, 40% off sales – Code: HOLIDAY|
|J.Crew Factory||60% off original prices* online only with code ADD2CART||50% – 60% off your purchase + extra 50% clearance with code FRIYAY plus extra 20% off $100 with code GIFTFACTORY||50-60% off everything||50% off everything + 60% select styles|
|Jachs||60% off sitewide with code BLKFRIDAY + up to 90% off Cyber Monday styles||/||/|
|John Varvatos||Extra 40% off sale with code CYBER40||/||/||/|
|Jos A. Bank||Up to 70% off throughout the site + extra 20% off your entire purchase of $125 or more with code CYBER18||/||/||/|
|Land's End||50% off full price: code PECAN pin: 4462||50% off everything (sale items included) with code FRIDAY pin 2565||40% off everything: TURKEY50 PIN: 1062||40% off outewear, 50% off everything else – Code: black pin:2727|
|Leesa||/||/||$75 off + $50 Amazon gift card||/|
|Levi's||40% off everything use code CYBER||40% off side-wide and in stores, free shipping on online orders.||40% off everything and free shipping HOLIDAY40||Up to 40% off and free shipping on all orders|
|Life After Denim||40% off sitewide with CYBER40||40% off sitewide||/||/|
|Linjer||Up to 50% off + extended returns||/||/||/|
|LL Bean||20% off clothing and outerwear with code THANKS20, 25% Wicked Good slippers with code WICKED25||25% off with FRIDAY25||20% off when you spend $50: THANKS20||/|
|Macy's||/||20% off site-wide||60% off outerwear, $15 fleece, sweaters, and shirts, $180 suits||Web buster deals + 20% off with thanks and free shipping over $50 – code: thanks|
|MeUndies||/||20 percent off site wide||/||/|
|The Motley||/||Get 15% off orders under $75 and 20% off orders between $75-$150. Orders over $150 will get 20% off plus a mystery kit valued at $40+.||15-20% off sitewide||20% off $150 plus free mystery dopp kit|
|Mott & Bow||25% off site wide, 30% off orders of $200, 35% off $300+with code CYBERMONDAY18||/||/||/|
|Mr. Porter||30% off selected items||/||/|
|MVMT Watches||Up to 25% off||Up to 20% off||Up to 20% off||15% off all watches|
|Neiman Marcus||Up to 25% off sale items, including designer items||/||/||/|
|Neiman Marcus Last Call||Extra 40-80% off everything||/||/||40-80% off|
|New Republic by Mark McNairy||Up to 65% off select styles||/||/||/|
|Nike||Extra 25% off selected styles with code CYBER||/||/||/|
|Nordstrom||Up to 60% off select items||Take an additional 20% off select sale items||Black Friday deals + 20% off select items||Extra 25% off starting Friday|
|Old Navy||50% off everything||50% off in stores and online||50% off everything||60% off hundreds of styles, 50% off even more, 40% off everything else|
|Orient Watches||Up to 40% off sitewide + extra 15% off with HOLIDAY18||50% off with code BF2017||50% off with code BF2016||50% off order with free shipping – code: BF2015|
|Orvis||Up to 50% off||/||/||/|
|Reebok||50% off sitewide with code CYBER||/||/||/|
|Rogue Territory||30% off select styles with code RGTBLKFRI2018||/||30% off RGTBLKFRI2016||/|
|Saks Fifth Avenue||Up to 40% off designer sale + free shipping with code FREESHIP||/||/||/|
|Saks Off 5th||Extra 60% off cold weather styles with code COLD60 + free shipping with code CYBERMON||/||/||/|
|Sierra Trading Post||/||/||/||Up to 70% off|
|Spier and Mackay||20% off sitewide with code CM2018||20% off sitewide with code BF2017||20% off sitewide with code BLACKFRIDAY||/|
|Target||BOGO 60% off + extra 15% off clothing, shoes, and accessories (online only)||/||30% off||40% off clothing|
|Taylor Stitch||30% off sitewide||20% off sitewide||/||/|
|Tani||Save 30% off automatically sitewide||/||/|
|The Tie Bar||Free holiday socks with orders of $30 + free shipping on any order||Free socks with a purchase of at least $40 with code FESTIVE. Free standard shipping on orders $30+||Free socks with $40 order – code: STRIPE40||Free socks with $60 order – code: GETFESTIVE|
|Theory||25% off select styles with code CYBER||/||/||/|
|Ties.com||40% off everything with code YOUVEGOTSALE||/||35% / 45% off purchase of $150 Free US Shipping FAVORITEFRIDAY||35% off no minium, 45% $150 or more, free shipping – code: BLKFRIDAY|
|Timberland||Up to 50% off select clothing, accessories, and footwear||30% off almost everything||/||/|
|Todd Snyder||25% off select styles + free shipping with code CYBERMONDAY||30% off Todd Snyder and Todd Snyder + Champion||50% off Todd Snyder and Todd Snyder + Champion collections with code HOLIDAY30||/|
|Tommy John||20% off everything + free shipping||/||/||/|
|Topman||Up to 50% off selected lines + free worldwide shipping||/||/||/|
|Unionmade||25% off sitewide with code CYBERMONDAY||/||/||/|
|Uniqlo||Up to 50% off + free shipping||Extra fine Merino wool sweaters $10 off||Black Friday select discounts / $15 off $150 / Free Shipping||Everything in store under $50 except some outerwear, free shipping|
|Urban Outfitters||$50 off purchases $150+, $25 off purchases $100+, $10 off purchases $50+||/||Buy 1 get 1 50% off everything||30% off all sale items|
|Vineyard Vines||40% off sale items, and 25% off everything else use code HOLIDAY18||/||/||/|
|Will Leather Goods||25% off with code HOLIDAY18||/||/||/|
|Wilson Leather||60% off Sitewide + free shipping with code CYBERFS||/||/||/|
|Wolf & Shepherd||$100 off shoes and boots with code HUNDO||/||/||/|