With Black Friday 2014 just about a couple of weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about which stores will have the best deals. To get you primed for the big shopping day, we’ve compiled a list of the retailers that have been historically the strongest Black Friday performers when it comes to offering customers incentives.
Here are NerdWallet’s top six stores for Black Friday shopping:
6. Toys R Us
Why to go: Superstore Toys R Us is the go-to place to check off items on your children’s Christmas wish lists. The store is known for its massive markdowns on the season’s popular toys. In 2013, discounts reached up to 70%. Sheer variety and prices aside, the retailer also regularly opens its doors on Thanksgiving, giving shoppers even more time for bargain hunting. If all of this isn’t motivation enough, Toys R Us also makes sales available online, so there’s no need to even set foot in the store.
What to watch out for: Last year, the deals and doorbusters were time-sensitive. Beginning at staggered times, certain items went on sale while supplies lasted. If your son or daughter had his or her heart set on a specific toy, you needed to time your visit to the store accordingly.
Why to go: Department store Macy’s is valued for its impressive Black Friday apparel deals. Last year’s popular doorbuster, for example, was a $19.99 Rampage boots special for women. Clothing and shoes aside, the retailer is also known to boast deals across an assortment of other departments, including jewelry, kitchenware and home décor. Plus, if slashed prices aren’t enough, Macy’s usually offers Black Friday coupons as well. Finally, just like Toys R Us, Macy’s traditionally begins its sales on Thanksgiving Day, ahead of Black Friday.
What to watch out for: Sometimes the prices publicized in Macy’s Black Friday ad aren’t actually the prices you’ll be paying at the register. Many deals – such as last year’s kitchen appliance offers – were achieved only with a mail-in rebate. This means you may have to do a little extra work to get the deal you’re desiring.
Why to go: With discounts on toys, electronics, apparel and home décor, Target is a one-stop shop for Black Friday deal finders. The retailer regularly offers sales beginning Thanksgiving Day – both in-store and online. This provides convenience and ample discount-shopping time. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Target on Black Friday? The store’s holiday price-match policy: Shoppers can know they’re getting the best deal possible, as Target promises to match any competitor’s price on qualifying items throughout the holiday shopping season.
What to watch out for: Target is a popular choice for Black Friday shoppers, which means it attracts large crowds and long lines. If you’re hoping to score a doorbuster this year, you may need to plan on camping out early.
3. Best Buy
Why to go: If it’s technology products and big-ticket items you’ve got your eye on, look no further than electronics retailer Best Buy. It’s on many a favorite Black Friday store list – and for good reason. Best Buy is known for its large ads, which highlight an array of bargains on tablets, TVs, cameras and refrigerators. Not only are the sales substantial, but the store also typically opens on Thanksgiving Day, kicking off Black Friday savings early.
What to watch out for: Best Buy’s electronics doorbusters are extremely competitive, and supplies are limited. In past years, shoppers have waited outside stores for days at a time. However, Best Buy uses a ticket system – handing out price-guarantee tickets up to two hours before opening time to customers already in line. This helps alleviate the hectic environment inside the store.
Why to go: Discount giant Walmart has become practically synonymous with Black Friday. The pros? Impressive markdowns, a huge variety of products – electronics, toys, apparel, appliances and home décor, among others – an early Thanksgiving Day opening time and hundreds of online specials. Beyond all of these enticements, the best part about Walmart’s Black Friday event is the store’s 1-Hour Guarantee policy. Last year – as in the past – as long as customers arrived during a special promotional period, they were guaranteed their coveted product at its advertised discount price. If a store ran out, shoppers would walk away with a Guarantee Card to ensure they’d receive the item before Christmas.
What to watch out for: Walmart has made headlines more than a few times for in-store and parking-lot fights during its Black Friday sales. Thus, it’s not so much the deals you need to watch out for, but your fellow shoppers.
Why to go: Despite its lack of a physical store location, online retailer Amazon is a nearly unbeatable competitor in the Black Friday game. Shoppers trade their carts for a mouse to take advantage of the site’s steep discounts on TVs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and more. Offers called Gold Box and Lightning Deals feature especially impressive price slashes. Setting itself even further apart, Amazon has historically hosted a full week of Black Friday deals.
What to watch out for: Some of Amazon’s deals are extremely time-sensitive. Last year, certain promotions arrived every 10 minutes. Not only did these discount prices became active at different times, but also inventories sold out quickly. So while you may not be waiting in line all day at a store on Black Friday, you’ll possibly be sitting in front of your computer screen all day at home.
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