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Black Friday deals begin Thanksgiving night

Variety Editor

Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 07:11

Black Friday

David Woo / MCT

Target, one of many stores known for its Black Friday deals, has received criticism for opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night in order to keep up with competition.

Planning on tackling the big deals on Black Friday? Don’t be surprised to see shoppers up and out before the sun this Friday morning — or even Thursday night.

This year’s sales are starting up even earlier than in years prior. Walmart, a Black Friday favorite for shoppers willing to brave chaos for low prices on technology and household items, will be opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night – that’s an entire two hours earlier than the opening of the store’s Black Friday event last year. Toys R Us will be opening at 8 p.m. as well, and Target has received criticism for opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night in order to keep up with competition.

Dev Shapiro is a spokesman for GottaDeal.com, a popular retail sale online resource that offers helpful tips and tricks for Black Friday and other sales seasons, as well as a community for bargain shoppers. He recommends shoppers cut down on lines and time wasted by doing some research before heading out to the stores.

“Do your homework,” Shapiro said. “Just because it’s Black Friday doesn’t mean it’s a deal.”

Shapiro said many stores will have similar deals to Black Friday-only deals days or even weeks before the actual event — sometimes even with additional accessories or incentives. “If you’re going to go out and actually brave the Black Friday crowds, get a game plan in place. Know what you’re gonna buy at each store so you can get in, get out, be safe and be more efficient.”

Shapiro also said that he personally recommends that first-time Black Friday shoppers avoid stores that take a free-for-all approach to their “doorbuster” deals, such as Walmart. He recommends that shoppers instead head to stores like Best Buy, which offers a numbered voucher system for its doorbuster deals starting two hours before the store opens at midnight on Friday in order to keep from inciting a mad rush of shoppers to one specific area of the store.

Many college students heading out to the stores on Thursday night or Friday morning will be looking for items in two specific categories: technology and clothing. Shapiro predicts that tablets, such as the Apple iPad 2 or the Samsung Galaxy tablet, will be the hot tech item of this year’s Black Friday sales. According to early advertisements released on websites like GottaDeal.com and TheBlackFriday.com, Best Buy will offer the 8 GB exclusive white Galaxy tablet for $179.99 after savings, along with a free $20 Best Buy gift card with purchase; Walmart is offering the 16 GB iPad 2 along with a $75 Walmart gift card for $399, as long as shoppers are in line between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.

Some students may wish to skip the lines and chaos and turn to the web instead. Many retailers offer similar or even exclusive deals for online shoppers on Black Friday. The key to success with online shopping, Shapiro said, is timing and preparation.

“My biggest tip would be to go to the websites you plan to buy gifts on and update your information before the sale,” he said. “Update your credit card info, update your shipping address and make sure you know your username and password for the store. A lot of times what happens is once the sale starts online, it starts when people are already logged in and stuff, and if you’re having to type in all of the information, you’re gonna lose out big time.”

Surprising online deals for many shoppers on Black Friday include travel-related deals.

“There are some travel deals out there, and my recommendation is figure out where you want to go and how you want to get there,” Shapiro said. “For instance, if you want to take a cruise, sign up for the email list of the cruise line you want to cruise with. Also like them or friend them on Facebook — same thing with airlines.”

Shapiro said that he has booked weeklong trips to Las Vegas on Black Friday for $500 to $600 per person — airfare included — and stressed that even on the web, planning ahead is the savvy shopper’s greatest asset.

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