It's easy to get caught up in the deal-fueled frenzy that has become Black Friday. In 2011, more than 86 million Americans ventured out the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of deeply discounted holiday products, according to the National Retail Federation, spending a staggering $52 billion over the holiday weekend. This year, total holiday sales during November and December are expected to grow more than 4 percent, according to the industry trade group. While that's a drop from 2011's 5.6 percent growth, it's the strongest forecast the NRF has made since the recession and outpaces the 10-year average holiday retail sales growth of 3.5 percent.
But, contrary to what shoppers might think, Black Friday isn't actually the one day of the year when skies part and great prices for everything rain down on the multitudes.
In fact, there are quite a few things you should avoid buying when trudging out to the malls on Black Friday.
"Just because it is maybe the single best day of the year to find a deal doesn't mean that it's the best day to find anything," says Dan de Granpre, CEO and editor-in-chief of consumer website dealnews.com.
The best example is winter clothing, he says. Although the weather might be getting chillier, don't stock up on parkas, mittens, and scarves while scouting out Black Friday deals this year. Wait a little longer and that $300 North Face parka you've been eyeing, for example, might just get a little cheaper come January.
Here are a few more product genres you should skip on Black Friday:
Toys: During the holiday shopping season, retailers pull out all the stops when it comes to stocking up on toys, dedicating a lot of space to displaying everything that makes children's eyes light up. But before you wrench this season's hottest toy from a grandma's grip, its actually better to wait a bit to buy toys for the holidays, experts say.
The best time to score deals on toys is about two weeks before Christmas, de Granpre says, when retailers start to get nervous about how much stock they have left. But the time window is brief: Retailers usually hike prices back up again 4 or 5 days before Christmas to capitalize on all the last-minute shoppers.
The only exception is extremely sought-after toys. If you can get your paws on toys such as the Wii U, grab them while you can.
"Toys are a timing thing," de Granpre says. "You can't even find the Wii U this year, so just get it when you can, because those are almost impossible to get."
High end, brand-name electronics: With the wall of shiny TVs staring back at you with high definition and plasma screens, it's hard not to be mesmerized into thinking you need that 72-inch giant on your living room wall. But while there might be a ton of deals out there for flat-screen TVs, fancy digital cameras, and flashy new gadgets, don't expect the big brand names to be handing out any big breaks on price this Black Friday.
"Don't expect to get high-end anything on Black Friday," de Granpre says. "It's a day for cheap stuff at cheap prices, not luxury items."
That includes the super-hot iPad mini and Microsoft Surface tablet, both of which probably won't see any discounts worth getting up at the crack of dawn.
Christmas decorations: All the serotonin-induced holiday joy you'll probably feel after eating a small child's weight in turkey and stuffing might tempt you to go bonkers when it comes to decking the halls this year. But resist the impulse, experts say. While it might never have been on your shopping list to start with, decorations often end up in the cart when the spirit of consumerism strikes. Wait a few weeks and all that holiday razzle dazzle will probably be marked down to more palatable prices.
Jewelry and watches: There will be no shortage of sales for shiny, sparkly things this holiday season, but experts warn that the discounts offered around the holidays are no better than those advertised for Valentine's Day. Instead, hold off until the spring and summer months when retailers slash prices for high-end baubles.
More Black Friday Coverage:
- The Best Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
- Quick Tips for a Debt-Free Black Friday
- Opinion: Wal-Mart Black Friday Protests Won't Work
Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @mmhandley.