When your favorite Black Friday 2016 ads will arrive

No two Black Fridays are alike, and there's always something that comes out of left field. But generally, this is what you can expect. 

Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images/File
Customers shop at Walmart's Black Friday event in 2015 in Rogers, Ark.

If you're already chomping at the bit to start planning your Black Friday shopping, you're not alone! Here's when we expect to see the Black Friday ads from your favorite stores come out.

Before we get into our predictions, there are a important points to keep in mind.

All dates we give are estimates.

We've got a lot of data about when we've seen Black Friday ads leak in the past, and we've got enough experience covering Black Friday news that we're pretty good at giving that data a gut check. However, no two Black Fridays are alike, and there's always something that comes out of left field to surprise us. In other words, if we're wrong, please be gentle!

True Black Friday ad leaks are increasingly rare.

The ugly, unvarnished truth about ad leaks is that they are nearly always theft. Someone swipes a copy off the printer for some cash under the table, a disgruntled employee ships an unfinished copy off to a friend who puts it on a website somewhere. The trouble with these leaks for Black Friday shoppers is that they're sometimes unfinished copies and thus can't always be trusted to be accurate. Since the rise of Black Friday websites, most retailers have tightened up the security of their ad creation process, and leaks are happening a lot less often than they used to.

I'll take this opportunity to note that Brad's Deals takes copyright seriously – we never pay for leaked Black Friday ads, and although we may occasionally publish a leak, we only do so for retailers who allow it.

Election Day could throw a wrench in everyone's plans.

The upcoming election undoubtedly will have the entire country's undivided attention on November 8th. Just about all other news that comes out that day will be buried, lost, and wholly ignored by, well, everyone. It will be a black hole for anyone with something to promote. That effectively takes Election Day off the table as a serious possibility for any new Black Friday ads, even if a retailer has published on that day in the past. We believe that Monday and Wednesday are much more likely.

Phew! Okay! That was a lot of notes. On to our predictions! Let's go!

Best Buy Black Friday Ad

ETA: Wednesday November 9, 2016
Leak Potential: Low

For the last few years, the Best Buy Black Friday ad has not leaked ahead of its intended publication date. Look for it to arrive online around November 9th, with paper copies showing up in newspapers that weekend. Check out our Best Buy Black Friday predictions to learn more about what you can expect from the ad.

Home Depot Black Friday Ad

ETA: Thursday November 26, 2016
Leak Potential: Zero

Home Depot famously sends out preemptive "cease and desist" letters that threaten sites like ours with legal action should we publish their ad before its official publication. For us, that means that even if someone sends a leaked copy to us we won't be putting it up on the site until then. (Darn those pesky lawyers...) The Home Depot Black Friday ad is always published on Thanksgiving Day, the day before their Black Friday sale, so in this case our ETA is pretty much set in stone.

Kohl's Black Friday Ad

ETA: Monday November 7, 2016
Leak Potential: Low-Medium

Last year, Kohl's gave their ad to some of the websites that cover Black Friday a few days ahead of its official launch date and foolishly trusted them not to leak it early. It leaked anyway, of course. Having been burned, I don't expect to see the Kohl's Black Friday ad this year before its publication date, usually right around Election Day. Look for it to drop on Monday or Wednesday that week. We've published moreKohl's Black Friday predictions if you want to go deeper.

Macy's Black Friday Ad

ETA: Tuesday November 1, 2016
Leak Potential: High

In all of the years that we've been watching Black Friday, there has never been a year when the Macy's Black Friday ad wasn't leaked. In fact, it's usually the first ad to arrive from a major store. That leak usually happens right around November 1st.

Sears Black Friday Ad

ETA: Saturday November 12, 2016
Leak Potential: High

Sears is another retailer that tends to leak like a sieve. Hardly a year goes by when we don't receive an anonymous copy of the Sears Black Friday ad from a throwaway email account. In 2015, Sears managed to keep it under control, and we were able to work with their team to leak it exclusively to our readers one day early. That said, Sears doesn't yet have the same aura of process security that other retailers have achieved, and we think the potential for an uncontrolled leak is probably still pretty high.

JCPenney Black Friday Ad

ETA: Monday November 7, 2016
Leak Potential: Low

JCPenney is another store that hasn't seen a true ad leak in several years, so we'll be waiting until it's officially released. There's a presidential election right smack of the middle of their usual release schedule, and we think the brass will be smart enough to avoid dropping the JCPenney Black Friday ad on Election Day.

Kmart Black Friday Ad

ETA: Wednesday November 9, 2016
Leak Potential: Low

You'd expect that the Kmart Black Friday ad would leak right along side of Sears, given that they're two branches of the same company. Surprisingly, that's not the case. Kmart ads tend to show up around the same time every year, roughly two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Target Black Friday Ad

ETA: Monday November 7, 2016
Leak Potential: Low

Although it has leaked in years past, for the last few Target has managed to keep it under wraps until they dropped it themselves. It seems as though they've gotten their process locked down, so a leak in 2016 would be unexpected to say the least. Look for the Target Black Friday ad to arrive right around Election Day, and check out our Target Black Friday predictions in the meantime.

Toys R Us Black Friday Ad

ETA: Saturday November 12, 2016
Leak Potential: Medium

The timing of the Toys R Us Black Friday ad has never really been all that consistent. However, for the last two years it's shown up the weekend before Thanksgiving and we think that's a pretty fair bet for 2016 as well.

Walmart Black Friday Ad

ETA: Friday November 11, 2016
Leak Potential: Low-Medium

In the past, I would have said you were crazy if you thought the Walmart Black Friday ad might be leaked. Like Home Depot, their lawyers have always sent preemptive don't-even-think-about-it letters and let's face it, no one wants to fight Walmart. But last year, Walmart's Black Friday marketing was uncharacteristically disorganized, the letter never came, and without a legal threat in place the ad did leak – albeit just one hour before it was published officially.

Will Walmart return to form for Black Friday 2016? It's anyone's guess, really. Even if they don't, anyone sitting on a leak might still hesitate after so many years of being warned against it. We've also heard rumors that the printed version of Walmart's Black Friday ad is pretty much the last one off the presses, making an early leak even more unlikely. But if you're curious about what to expect from the ad itself, check out our Walmart Black Friday predictions.

This article first appeared in Brad's Deals.

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