Cheap TV deals are a staple of Black Friday sales — and every other holiday promotional event, for that matter. But in 2021, global supply chain problems are causing shortages and higher prices for a wide range of goods, and TVs are no exception.
The takeaway for shoppers is that TV deals probably won't be as alluring as they usually are around the holidays, even during the height of discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The average price paid for a TV during the fourth quarter of 2020 was $363, according to the market research firm NPD Group. For the same period in 2021, the company is forecasting average TV prices will be around $500.
"Holiday pricing overall is likely to be at least $100 above normal" for TVs, Stephen Baker, NPD Group technology industry advisor, told Money via email. In fact, "pricing right now on TVs is the highest since at least 2012," he said.
It's not just supply chain issues causing TV prices to spike. For most of 2020, and well into 2021, the pandemic has led Americans to spend an inordinate amount of time indoors. Accordingly, sales have soared for things that keep people occupied while mulling around at home, like puzzles, game consoles, lumber for home improvement projects and, of course, TVs.
Cars, smartphones, TVs and other electronics are particularly likely to more expensive and harder to find available because of the ongoing shortage of chips that are needed in virtually every kind of product that uses a screen.
When to find the best TV deals
Shoppers can already find a few decent sales in stores right now (see below) but experts say the lion's share of top deals won't happen until the week of Thanksgiving.
Unlike last year, when COVID-19 kept the traditional hordes of holiday shoppers out of brick and mortar stores, in-person electronics shopping around Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday should be back to normal. "In 2019 those two weeks made up 30%" of all consumer electronics purchases for the fourth quarter, NPD Group's Baker wrote recently. "Holiday 2020 disrupted that, but consumers (and the industry) are likely to return to those old habits in 2021."
Even with supply chain problems and chip shortages, the deals site dealnews.com is predicting Black Friday TV prices as low as $200 for models in the 40" to 49" range, $150 for 50" to 59" models, $360 for TVs 60" to 69" and $478 for those 70" or larger.
Mind you, those are the absolute lowest-price deals expected. The average Black Friday TV prices anticipated by dealnews.com are:
• $459 for TVs 40" to 49"
• $508 for TVs 50" to 59"
• $1,391 for TVs 60" to 69"
• $933 for TVs 70" and up
Best TV deals so far
In November 2020, Walmart had an amazing deal — a 55" TCL smart Roku TV for just $148 — alongside plenty of other great TV discounts. Odds are shoppers won't find prices quite that cheap this year. In Walmart's preview of this year's Black Friday sales, which kick off on November 3 and are spread over several weeks, a similar 55" TCL smart Roku TV is being highlighted at a price of $228.
The TV deals that are already live haven't blown anyone away. But this week's early Black Friday sale from Best Buy has some decent prices on TVs, and if you're flexible enough to buy an older model or choose whatever size and brand happens to be discounted, there are solid deals from other retailers too.
Here are some of the best deals we spotted that are valid as of Friday, October 22. If you're wondering how the prices compare to the Black Friday period last year, check out our roundup of deals. As always, be aware that deals can sell out quickly, and that prices are always subject to change with no notice.
• Samsung 50-Inch Class Frame Series Quantum HDR Smart TV: $897.99 at Amazon (list price $1,299.99)
• Sony X85J 75-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Google TV: $1,298 at Amazon (list price $1,598)
• TCL 40-Inch Smart Roku TV (2019 Model): $229.99 at Amazon (list price $349.99)
• LG 70-Inch 4K UHD Smart webOS TV: $749.99 at Best Buy (list price $999.99)
• Samsung 70-Inch 4K Crystal UHD Smart Tizen TV: $599.99 at Best Buy (list price $749.99)