Luckily, retailers are offering something for everyone, and you don’t have to wait for Black Friday in many cases. You can score plenty of deals before, or on, Thanksgiving Day.
Or if you have your heart set on joining the Black Friday crowds, you can check out retailers’ websites, Facebook and Twitter to formulate your in-store shopping plans. Here’s the Mr. Cheap Stuff guide to your early holiday shopping strategies.
1. RESEARCH: Here are links to the major retailers’ websites, Facebook and Twitter pages. Many of them are offering great deals online right now, and some also have posted their Black Friday ads for you to review in advance.
You also can find your local store, and some sites (such as Walmart) even have printable store layout maps, so you will know which aisles will have the deals you want. Also, sign up for their email list, to get exclusive deal offers sent to you. Read on for some deal highlights.
2. AMAZON: The big daddy of online retailing – Amazon – officially began its Black Friday sale on Monday, Nov. 22. Get fantastic prices on everything from Playstations to HD TV’s to jewelry to magazine subscriptions. The sale will last through Saturday, Nov. 27, and includes free shipping on items over $25.
The site features such deals as an LG Blu-ray player for $79.99. Amazon also is offering free shipping (matching Walmart) but also free 30-day returns, low price guarantees, and other specials on selected items.
3. WALMART: For years, Walmart has led the way for in-store Black Friday deals, but their online offerings aren’t shabby either. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), Walmart.com is offering discounts of up to 40 percent on almost 150 items, triple the number of specials in 2009.
On Friday, many Walmart stores open at midnight, although some of their electronics doorbuster items, such as a $198 E-Machines laptop, don’t go on sale until 5 a.m.. Walmart also will match the price of competitors’ ads on Black Friday.
4. TARGET 2-DAY SALE: Sale starts 4 a.m. Friday. Their online “Command Center” offers a signup to get text alerts for the best deals. Among other things, Target will be selling small appliances (such as toasters) for only $3! Of course, it’s only while supplies last.
5. TOYS R US: Toys R Us has a Cyber Weekend sale that starts at 12:01am on Thanksgiving Day and ends on Cyber Monday, November 29, 2010. If you prefer to shop in person for the doorbuster deals, their stores open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night. Save on action figures, bicycles, Disney items, and much more.
6. RADIO SHACK: At Radio Shack, the stores open 5 a.m. Friday, but why wait? Their deals are available online Thursday, and some items are on sale before that. Get a SanDisk 4 GB USB drive, $8.99; and a Garmin Nuvi 1300 GPS, $99.99.
7. OLD NAVY: Old Navy has a special website, Gobblepalooza, to advertise its deals. Stores are open on Thanksgiving Day, with deals such as 50% off outerwear and women’s tank tops for $5. And if you need to burn off your meal, learn their “Gobble” hip-hop dance with a downloadable song and a slow-mo demo of the moves online.
8. APPLE: Apple has announced a special one-day shopping event for Black Friday. They are not giving any specifics in advance, but Apple promises “dozens of great iPad, iPod, and Mac gifts” for everyone.”
In past years, they have discounted their products up to about $100 off. The $100 savings would be for high-ticket items (their computers); expect smaller savings for iPods. The Apple sale begins at midnight online Black Friday, and their stores open 8 a.m..
9. OKAY, SO YOU’VE DONE YOUR RESEARCH – NOW GET PREPARED TO SPEND: For online shopping, set up an account in advance on the retailer’s site, storing your name and shipping information (and in some cases, you also can store a credit card number if you want.) Have your browser “remember” your sign-in name and password.
Right before the sale starts online, make sure you’re signed in to your account. Then you’re ready to move quickly, since online deals tend to get snapped up at lightning speed. In some cases, websites also will allow you to preorder, either for delivery or in-store pickup, so you can reserve your deal in advance.
10. FOR IN-PERSON SHOPPING, DRESS COMFY: Gym clothes are a good idea. If you have to wait outside a store in line, also make sure you’re prepared for rainy, cold or hot weather, so check your local forecast. You may even want to bring a cushion or camping chair. Eat before you go, and/or bring some quick snacks such as protein bars, fruit and bottled water.
Also, get your local paper on Thursday (and check your mail) so you’ll have all the printed flyers to bring with you for reference and price matching. And make a budget before you go – all those deals can tempt you to overspend.