Teresa McUsic

For the best Black Friday deals, plan to shop on Thanksgiving

Black Friday ads are all over the Internet already, ahead of the newspaper inserts that come on Thanksgiving.

So what are the deal watchers buying this year?

Jon Vincent, founder of www.EarlyBlackFriday.com, said he will be going to a Toys R Us on Thanksgiving to pick up the Big Backyard Charleston Lodge wood swing set for his son at $799.99 — half the normal cost, with free delivery included.

Melissa Martin, spokeswoman at www.BlackFriday.com, plans to go online and to JC Penney and Kohl’s for housewares for her grown sons. Among her Penney purchases will be towels for $2.99, down comforters for $20 and a 65-piece flatware set for $39.99. At Kohl’s, she said she plans to buy a 40-piece Food Network dinnerware set for $39.99 and bedding and blankets — all 65-70 percent off.

Benjamin Glaser, features editor at www.DealNews.com, said he will work Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday but plans to shop online. Among his purchases: family photos printed for his aunt with a 20 percent off deal at Office Depot, and a new pair of boots for himself during Cyber Monday sales when shoes are at their lowest prices.

Edgar Dworski, founder of www.ConsumerWorld.org, said he will shop at Old Navy — which will have 50 percent off everything in stores — and Sears, which will give customers Shop Your Way program points for 100 percent of the purchase price on some items, up to $50 per member. Details are included in its Black Friday ads, primarily on the front and back cover.

“It is rather amazing,” Dworski said. “So you can buy men’s jeans for $9.99 and get back every penny you paid in points good toward other purchases.”

In addition to wading through the newspaper shoppers, consumers can find most Black Friday deals — even the majority of doorbuster deals — online.

“Retailers are even advertising in their Black Friday ads that the deals are available online on Thanksgiving,” Vincent said.

Most Black Friday ads will specify by item whether the deal is available online, so be sure to note that as you look at ads either online or in the paper.

“Retailers have done a great job listening to what the consumers want,” Martin said. “For that reason you will see a lot of stores doing the same deals online too.”

Retailers also continue to one-up one another. Kohl’s said it is putting its doorbusters online for the first time starting Monday, days before the in-store deals that start at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Penney is making Black Friday deals available on its website Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, for the first time this year, while Ann Taylor is also jumping ahead, offering 50 percent off all items online Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. with the coupon code Celebrate.

Glaser said that in the past four years, Thanksgiving offered the most of its Editor’s Choice deals, the coveted best deals based on lowest prices or particularly rare offers. He expects this to be the fifth year that happens.

“Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day for discounts,” he said. “Black Friday is more of an extension of the sales on Thanksgiving.”

While both Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer more deals overall, the best have been on Thanksgiving itself, he said. Thirty-eight percent of the specials pushed on Thanksgiving were what the site considered top deals, compared with 31 percent for Black Friday.

But shoppers don’t always recognize that. In a DealNews Black Friday survey, 46 percent said Black Friday had better deals than Thanksgiving Day or Cyber Monday — with only 19 percent realizing that Thanksgiving is the best day for sales.

Other Thanksgiving/Black Friday tips this year:

  • Download store apps to your phone so retailers can offer you deals. Last year, Walmart released its Black Friday ad early to its app users, Amazon offered app-only deals and Target had special discounts on its app. Websites like DealNews also have apps that can alert you to a wide variety of deals.
  • Connect on social media with your favorite retailers or deal websites to get notification as soon as deals go live. Retailers and deal sites will also ping you with emails on specific products or exclusive deals if you sign up.
  • Become a store member. Toys R Us, for example, will offer many Black Friday deals to loyalty members starting Sunday both in stores and online. Sears is giving as much as $50 back on certain Black Friday purchases for members of its Shop Your Way program. Memberships are generally free.

Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays. TMcUsic@SavvyConsumer.net

Black Friday schedule

Kohl’s: Online sales start Monday; in-store sales 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving

JC Penney: Online sales start Wednesday; in-store sales 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Walmart: Online sales start 11 p.m. Wednesday; in-store sales 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Best Buy: Online sales start 12 a.m. on Thanksgiving; in-store sales 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Target: Online and in-store sales, 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Sears: Online and in-store sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Toys R Us: Online sales at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving; in-store sales at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving

Source: Retailers