That could be a huge bargain considering that most TVs in the $500 range are just O.K. while high-end models cost upward of $2,000.
What should you keep in mind while scoping out a new set? Our best tips are right here.
The key points: Know the lighting in the room where you’ll put it, look for a couple important features, and don’t get duped.
Don’t want to bother with all that? There’s a list of top picks there, too. — BRIAN X. CHEN
A wait to get in, and a wait to get out.
At Walmart in Commack, N.Y., on Thursday, the route to the registers was winding.
Jessica Polizzi, 18, a physical therapy student at New York Institute of Technology, pushed a cart through a maze of yellow tape and black barriers. As if trapped in a corn maze, Ms. Polizzi and her mother, Jane, and brother, Martin, 17, hit a dead end before a War-Mart employee redirected them.
“It’s like a haunted house,” she said. “But I think the point of that is to disorient you and scare you, so maybe this is the same tactic.”
The Polizzis have been shopping on Thanksgiving night for the last few years.
“Thanksgiving’s so low-key for us, so this is what we look forward to,” Jessica Polizzi said. “We have turkey, and then this is our evening activity.”
Also in line was Mohit Mundra, 37, of Hauppauge; but for Mr. Mundra, the shopping trip was nothing special.
“I was here for some general purchases,” said Mr. Mundra, who came with his wife and two daughters. “I just saw people outside who were in queue. Out of curiosity, I joined the queue.” — ARIELLE DOLLINGER
People may spend less this year than last.
The millions of deal-seeking shoppers who jam malls and store aisles over the next few days will be doing so in what is by most measures the best economy in a decade. The unemployment rate, at 4.1 percent, is at its lowest level since the Clinton administration.
But two questions loom over the holiday shopping season: How free will Americans be with their spending when wage growth remains anemic? And how much of that money will they spend in stores, given the continuing shift toward online shopping?
Over all, Americans appear confident in their economic prospects. The University of Michigan on Wednesday said consumer sentiment ticked down in November but remained close to its highest level since 2004. A separate survey conducted for The New York Times this month by the online polling firm SurveyMonkey likewise found that confidence was high and stable — neither survey has moved much in response to political turmoil in Washington or crises overseas.
“This isn’t something that’s bouncing around a lot,” said Jon Cohen, vice president of survey research for SurveyMonkey. “People aren’t rushing to save money they way they were during the downturn.”
But that confidence may not translate into booming holiday sales. Most Americans plan to spend the same on their holiday shopping as last year, or less, according to the survey; only 12 percent plan to spend more.
Still, two-thirds of Americans plan to shop over the long Thanksgiving weekend, according to SurveyMonkey, and nearly a quarter plan to do all or most of their holiday shopping in that period.
But the shift toward online retailers means that Black Friday is not the economic indicator that it once was. Retailers — both online and brick-and-mortar — are increasingly offering deals days or even weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, and consumers have learned that the best prices on some items come later in the holiday season.
“People have gotten so they game the system,” said Diane Swonk, independent economist in Chicago. “These are savvy consumers now. They’ve learned to play the game.” — BEN CASSELMAN
Yeah, O.K. So where are the deals?
We’ve got you covered here.
Your local Walmart is open now (it doesn’t matter where you are, this is pretty much a given). Kmart and two big outdoors emporiums, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, were open this morning before you got the turkey in the oven.
Other major retailers including Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s have opted to wait until the late afternoon.
One retailer that chose to stay closed on Thanksgiving? T-Mobile, which had opened last year. John Legere, the mobile carrier’s chief executive, said he wanted everyone to “give thanks with family, friends and loved ones.”
Don’t worry. T-Mobile will be ready to help you “bright and early” on Black Friday. — TIFFANY HSU
Looking for something else? Check out Wirecutter.
Our colleagues over at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews products, have a running list of Black Friday deals on everything from trash cans to cameras to artificial Christmas trees.
The best part is you don’t have to get out of your chair to chase them down.
There are suggestions at every price point, so it’s a good resource if you’re buying for a gift exchange at work or a loved one. After all, somebody in your life must need a kayak.
When you can’t shop online, show up in person.
Frustrations with online shopping with an slow internet connection drove some Iowa shoppers out of their homes on Thursday to find the best deals in person.
In Eastern Iowa, broadband service is not yet ubiquitous. A 2016 report from the Federal Communications Commission found that 37 percent of rural Iowans lacked broadband access.
Keshia Bolsinger, 31, a store manager for U.S. Cellular, is among them. In Garber, her tiny town in Clayton County, there is only one option for internet: DSL. When she turned to her iPhone to peruse Black Friday deals on Walmart.com, she ran into trouble.
“It wasn’t really cooperating,” Ms. Bolsinger said. “It started freezing and kicked me out.”
She enlisted her mother to babysit her four children and adjusted the time of her Thanksgiving meal to allow her to drive to a Walmart in nearby Manchester.
For Scott Miller, 44, a pet store operator in Manchester, shopping from the comfort of his couch is not an option: He does not have internet. He arranged to have his Thanksgiving meal at noon so he could leave his family and nab a 43” Vizio HDTV for $197. He waited for three hours for the sale to begin.
“It was boring,” Mr. Miller said. “I just stood there, twiddling my fingers.”
As broadband access here increases, that wait could vanish.
“I’d prefer not to go if we didn’t have to,” Ms. Bolsinger said after loading her trunk with toys. “I did get my heels rammed by a lady. She hit me hard with her cart.”— CHRISTINA CAPECCHI
Holding the line for bargains and bragging rights.
What on Earth possesses people to hit stores when they could be home sleeping off a turkey dinner? The psychology is complicated.
Richard Larson, a professor at M.I.T. who has spent years studying line behavior — he’s known as Dr. Queue in academic circles — said that the enthusiasm for Black Friday lines “makes sense, in some weird way.”
The once-a-year lines are “exhilarating,” he said. “They’re the kind you might tell your grandchildren about.”
The scarcity of bargains means shoppers can enjoy a sense of accomplishment after braving the lines.
“People’s willingness to wait is, in some sense, proportional to the perceived value of whatever they’re waiting to acquire,” Professor Larson said. “Even if they don’t know what the line is for, they reason that whatever’s at the end of it must be fantastically valuable.”
Is that enough to lure Professor Larson into this weekend’s lines? Nope. “It confuses me,” he said. — TIFFANY HSU
Macy’s is prime real estate. For real.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a holiday tradition for nearly a century, an annual reminder that one of the most recognizable names in retail is just the place to get the shopping season started.
It’s also just the place for condos, Amazon and, in one case, a homeless shelter.
Macy’s real estate holdings, from mall storefronts to grand buildings — most notably the Herald Square location that serves as the backdrop for the parade on TV — are worth more than the company’s market value.
The Herald Square store is worth an estimated $3.3 billion alone. That’s more than half the company’s market value of $6.4 billion. — MICHAEL CORKERY