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Black Friday shopping guide: Sale start dates, price protection, extended return windows & more

Black Friday shopping guide: Sale start dates, price protection, extended return windows & more
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Charis Brown |

Black Friday season has begun earlier than ever! According to Clark Howard’s holiday predictions, it’s important to shop early to save the most and ensure you get your gifts on time.

“You want to start shopping extra early and be as scientific as you can about prices as we move through the Christmas shopping season,” he said.

Since retailers are aware of shipping backlogs and delays, the deals are already coming! Our team is working hard to bring you the very best deals every day. To save the most, it’s important to keep tabs on important sale times and which retailers are offering price protection. Finally, to ensure your gifts arrive in time, you’ll also want to know about shipping cutoff times as we get closer to the holidays.

RELATED: Clark Howard’s holiday shopping predictions for 2021

Sale start dates

These are the sale start times we know about currently. We’ll update this list as more Black Friday sales are announced!

Best Black Friday deals + sales happening now

Currently, retailers are offering sales to kickstart holiday shopping alongside releasing their Black Friday ads. We’ll update this list as more deals are available! For more holiday ideas, check out our gift guides.

RELATED: The top 10 best Black Friday deals so far

Price protection

Several retailers have offered “price protection,” meaning that if a price drops lower than the current price later, the retailer will issue the customer a credit for the difference. This is different than price matching where a retailer may match a price from a competitor on the day the item is purchased. Some retailers are offering these benefits to members of their loyalty programs. Below is a list of these retailers with links to their price protection policies.

  • Bed Bath & Beyond: Bed Bath & Beyond matches prices up to 14 days after purchase. Seasonal and clearance items are not eligible. See other requirements here. buybuyBABY, owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, offers the same policy.
  • Best Buy: Especially since Best Buy began offering holiday deals on October 19, the company is offering price protection on items marked with its Black Friday Price Guarantee. If an item’s price goes down on or before November 26, 2021, they’ll refund the difference. (This is available to Best Buy Totaltech and MyBestBuy members. Join free.)
  • Costco: Though the warehouse store doesn’t price-match with other retailers, if you find an item lower than what you paid less than 30 days after purchase, you can get a credit for the difference.
  • JCPenney: JCPenney’s policy states, “If a lower price is still valid, present the qualifying ad with the JCPenney customer receipt within 14 days of purchase and JCPenney will reimburse the difference.”
  • Kohl’s: If the item you purchased matches all of the criteria, Kohl’s will issue a price adjustment for the difference.
  • Macy’s: A price adjustment can be requested at this department store within 10 days of purchase and only if the original purchase was made without a promotional code.
  • Newegg: Newegg has kicked off holiday shopping with its Black Friday price protection program. If you purchase an eligible product displaying the Black Friday price protection program badge from October 14 through November 21, 2021, and after your purchase that same product ends up discounted to a lower price at Newegg on or before November 30, 2021, Newegg will automatically refund the difference to the original payment method. The best part is, you won’t have to submit a claim — it will happen automatically by December 6!
  • Staples: Staples’ policy states, “If you find your item at a lower price at Staples within 14 days, let us know and we’ll refund the difference to you.”
  • Target: In conjunction with Target’s Deal Days sale that started on October 10, Target’s Holiday Price Match Guarantee means that guests can request a price adjustment on items purchased at Target through December 24 if the price lowers later in the season.

As another option, if the item you purchased is within the return window and you find it for a lower price, you could buy it at the lower price and return the original item. If a retailer isn’t offering price protection, you may still be able to get price protection from a credit card. Here’s a list of credit cards that offer price protection.

Extended return windows

Another service that can help with holiday shopping is extended return windows. Here are a few stores that have increased the return window for items purchased during the holiday season, or that offer a generous return policy year round:

  • Amazon: “For the 2021 holiday season, most of the items purchased between October 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31, 2022.”
  • Best Buy: “Buy your gifts and other items this holiday with the knowledge that Best Buy has easy returns. Purchases made October 18, 2021, through January 2, 2022, have an extended return period through January 16, 2022, excluding items purchased with a third-party contract (e.g., activatable devices (cell phones, cellular tablets, mobile hotspots, and cellular wearables) and AppleCare monthly plans, etc.) and holiday products (e.g., artificial trees, lights, decorations, etc.). Other exclusions apply.”
  • Costco: Costco has a generous return policy all year long offering a return window up to 90 days, though some exclusions apply.
  • The Home Depot: “Most new, unopened merchandise sold by The Home Depot can be returned within 90 days of purchase, unless noted in our Return Policy Exceptions Return Policy Exceptions.”
  • Lowe’s Home Improvement: “Most new, unused merchandise can be refunded or exchanged with proof of purchase within 90 days of the original purchase date, unless noted in our Return Policy Exceptions.”
  • Sam’s Club: Sam’s Club offer returns within 90 days for electronics and major electronics, and most items anytime, minus exceptions listed here.
  • Target: “For Electronics and Entertainment items purchased October 1 through December 25, the refund period will begin on December 26.” See all return cutoff dates for Target here.
  • Walmart: “Items sold and shipped by Walmart can be returned or replaced, when available, by mail within 90 days of receipt.”

Shipping cutoff dates

According to each major shipping company’s websites and as cited by CBS, below are the shipping deadlines for packages to arrive by December 25.

FedEx

  • December 9: FedEx Ground Economy, FedEx Freight Economy
  • December 15: FedEx Ground Contiguous US, FedEx Ground Alaska and Hawaii, FedEx Home Delivery Contiguous US, FedEx Home Delivery Alaska and Hawaii, FedEx Freight Priority, FedEx Freight® Direct
  • December 21: FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 3Day Freight
  • December 22: 2Day & 2Day AM, FedEx 2Day Freight
  • December 23: FO, PO, SO, Extra Hours, FedEx 1Day Freight
  • December 24: FedEx Same Day

United States Postal Service

USPS Continental U.S.

  • December 15: USPS retail ground service
  • December 17: First-class mail service (including holiday greeting cards)
  • December 17: First-class packages (up to 15.99 ounces)
  • December 18: Priority mail service
  • December 23: Priority mail express service USPS

For Air/Army/Fleet/Diplomatic post office addresses:

  • November 6: Retail ground service
  • December 9: Priority mail and first-class mail
  • December 16: Priority mail express military service

USPS Alaska and Hawaii:

  • December 17: Hawaii to/from mainland — priority mail and first-class mail
  • December 18: Alaska to/from Continental U.S. — first-class and priority mail
  • December 21: Alaska to/from Continental U.S. and Hawaii to/from mainland — priority mail express FedEx
  • December 9: Ground economy
  • December 15: Ground and home delivery
  • December 21: Express saver
  • December 22: 2-day and 2-day am
  • December 23: Overnight services
  • December 24: Same day

UPS

  • Ground shipping, check the website for a quote
  • December 22: Second-day air services
  • December 23: Next-day air services
  • December 25: No pickup service, UPS holiday

Note that UPS service guarantee are still suspended for most services due to COVID-19. 

Amazon

Since Amazon has its own delivery service, we expect that you may be able to order closer to the holidays and still have your item delivered in time. Last year, Prime members were still able to order on December 23 for one-day delivery on select items, and December 24 was the cutoff for same-day delivery on orders over $35. However, it’s best to shop earlier in case of anything unexpected!

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