Black Friday Discounts: Retailers with the Best Deals

Comparing Black Friday discounts is hard work. A new study highlights retailers with the best deals in key shopping categories.

black friday deal signs in store window
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Does the thought of Black Friday discounts and the shopping frenzy they promote make you cringe? There are three ways you can make Black Friday shopping more effective and pleasurable by following the guidance of these two new studies by WalletHub.

First, review the research; WalletHub analyzed over 3,500 deals from 13 of the biggest U.S. retailers’ 2023 Black Friday ad scans so you don't have to. The study revealed which stores have the deepest discounts and which shopping categories offer the best value this season. 

Second, online shopping helps you avoid hectic crowds and snag deals without waiting hours in the cold. If that seems like a no-brainer, you're not alone. The WalletHub study found that 7.5 million more people chose to shop Black Friday sales online than in person last year.

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Finally, if you prefer the flexibility of gift cards, WalletHub recently published a separate study tracking the best gift cards of the season.

Where are the best Black Friday discounts?

On average, retailers are offering discounts of 35% on Black Friday deals this year, according to WalletHub. Compared to last year’s average of about 37%, it’s just a slight drop so significant savings are still available. Where are the steepest price drops? JC Penney’s, Macy’s, and Belk have the top three largest bargains this Black Friday. 

You’ll still need to do some research to ensure you’re truly getting a good deal. There are a slew of ways Black Friday retailers may trick you, such as through price inflation. So, a quick price comparison could prove to be helpful.

And remember that some tech items may be cheaper on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
RetailerAverage discount
JC Penney’s59.1%
Best Buy29.8%
Wal Mart26.9%
The Home Depot20.8%
Overall Average35.0%

Source: Best Places to Shop on Black Friday (2023), WalletHub.

Among the top three retailers, Belk had the best deals on appliances, with an average discount of over 60 percent. JC Penney’s had the highest discounts on apparel and accessories with average price cuts of about 58% in this category. Macy’s claimed the top discounts in furniture (about 48%), consumer packaged goods (45%), and toys (about 45%). 

Discounts by Shopping Category 

Many Americans use Black Friday to refresh their electronics, phones, and computers without breaking the bank. Others are looking for holiday gifts like toys. So, you might be surprised that the category offering the best value on Black Friday is jewelry at an average of 54% off. At stores like Kohl’s, those jewelry discounts reach over 70% off. 

Here is a summary of the largest discounts (by percentage off, rounded) in each category among the thirteen retailers included in the study. 

  • Jewelry: Kohl’s (72%) 
  • Appliances: Belk (60%) 
  • Apparel and Accessories: JC Penney (58%) 
  • Furniture: Macy’s (48%)
  • Consumer Packaged Goods: Macy’s (45%) 
  • Toys: Macy’s (44%)
  • Consumer Electronics: Newegg (43%) 
  • Computers and phones: Kohl’s (38%) 
  • All other product categories: Belk (66%) 

The best gift cards

Gift cards can be a mixed bag; who hasn't found that a card has expired, or the pin no longer works? WalletHub conducted a survey of the 50 most popular gift cards to help you choose the best cards. The criteria they used to evaluate the cards were: 1) how popular the cards are; 2) how much of a discount you can buy them for; 3) resale value; 4) how much people like the retailer; and 5) shipping fees.

On a 100-point scale, these were the best cards identified in the study.

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Top Ten Gift Cards (Score out of 100)
Retailer/IssuerTotal Score
Starbucks Gift Card70
Sephora Gift Card60
Target Gift Card60
Disney Gift Card56
Chick-fil-A Gift Card55
iTunes Gift Card55
Fandango Gift Card52
Visa Gift Card51
eBay Gift Card51
Home Depot Gift Card51

Source: Best Gift Cards of 2023, WalletHub.

Skip Overspending and Focus on the Deals 

Although some deals are legitimate, other prices may have been inflated before Black Friday as a marketing ploy. Ishani Banerji, the Clinical Assistant Professor at Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business shared how to distinguish real deals from fake, 

“The reference price is what the retailer claims the product is usually sold for and this is contrasted with the sale price. For example, Amazon will show the "list price" for a pair of headphones as $199.95 and then claim that the sale price of $99.95 is a 50% discount. Consumers should try and verify the reference price before jumping on deals like this.” One helpful tool if you are shopping on Amazon is the webiste CamelCamelCamel, which tracks price changes on many Amazon products.

To combat fake deals, Banerji suggests reviewing the price history to see if the price drops frequently. To keep saving money on Black Friday, you want to go in with a strategy. Making a list and questioning your purchases beforehand could keep you from overspending. Banerji also warns against impulse buying as a way to avoid overspending, “It is important to try and switch away from that impulse buying mode to a more deliberate and thoughtful approach. One way to do this is to set limits in place beforehand by making a list of products or setting a hard budget. Another way is to ask, "Would I buy this if it were not on sale?"

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Seychelle Thomas
Contributing Writer

Seychelle is a seasoned financial professional turned personal finance writer. She’s passionate about empowering people to make smart financial decisions by combining 10 years of finance industry experience with solid research and a wealth of knowledge. Seychelle is also a Nav-certified credit and lending expert who has explored money topics such as debt consolidation, budgeting, credit, and lending in her work for publications including GOBankingRates, LendEDU, and Credible.