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Tips for 'Black Friday' shopping

By Tania Anderson
washingtonpost.com
Love it or not, Black Friday is fast approaching. It’s the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season and people either happily ignore the day or embrace it in all its frenzied glory. I recently tapped into the expertise of Dan de Grandpre, founder and CEO of Dealnews.com, for some insight into what we’ll see on Friday and the Monday after Thanksgiving, the day many people hit the online stores. Here are his best tips for shopping those two days:
Tip 1: Before you set out for that Black Friday shopping trip, check the store’s online sites for deals. De Grandpre says many stores will be offering the same merchandise and discounts in their online stores as their brick and mortar shops. Checking online first will save you the aggravation and hassle of venturing out to the mall.
Tip 2: Don’t wait until Friday for the Black Friday deals. Many retailers will be posting their discounts on their Web sites on Thanksgiving. So check out their sites between the turkey and apple pie. Wal-Mart for one has already posted its Black Friday ad.
Tip 3: Cyber Monday will be the day to get deals at online-only stores like Overstock.com and Buy.com. Smartbargains.com, JoS. A. Bank, Discovery Channel, HSN are some other places to check out on Monday. The stores that are normally the stars on Black Friday, like Wal-Mart and Kohl’s, will also have Cyber Monday sales but they won’t be as good as their Black Friday deals.
Tip 4: Be prepared for a little uncertainty this year. Normally de Grandpre and other retail experts say Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best days to shop for the holidays but this year retailers are more desperate than ever so there’s a good chance that prices will continue to drop. In fact many retailers are counting on a lucrative Thanksgiving weekend. If it doesn’t happen you may be seeing liquidation sales.
Tip 5: The best products to buy on Black Friday will be electronics such as low-end televisions and laptops. De Grandpre predicts that shoppers will be able to snag 50-inch plasmas and 46-inch LCD television for under $1,000. You’ll also find some basic, lower-priced televisions for around $300. GPS navigation systems made by Garmin and Tom Tom will be around $100. And Apple will have one of its best sales of the season, de Grandpre adds. Most of its merchandise from iPods to laptops will be marked down. Best Buy is offering 10 percent off Apple gear to add a little competition for the Apple stores.
Tip 6: If you’re in the market for high-end jewelry like an engagement ring, de Grandpre says to shop online first at sites like Ice.com, Diamond.com and Bluenile.com, print out their prices and deals and take them to your local jeweler. They may be in a position to match the deal. “If you buy it locally, you’ll feel better about who’s backing it,” he says.
Tip 7: Be careful with mail-in rebates and gift cards. Not to be too doom-and-gloom but you never which retailer will go under next. A gift card or rebate may become worthless if the retailer goes bye-bye.
Tania Anderson writes the ‘Shop to It’ blog for washingtonpost.com, from which this article is adapted.

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