1. Start tracking store sales in advance. Follow your favorite retailers on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest before Black Friday. Not only will they reveal details about sales before they happen, many stores will also offer exclusive discounts on those sites. In the past, stores like RadioShack have offered savings to shoppers who “checked in” with the brand on Foursquare, a common smartphone app.
2. Shop online in the wee hours of Thanksgiving. Many sellers activate their online deals the day before -typically between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. ET on Thursday morning. So if you have your eye on a particular product or store, look early that morning to see if the savings are live yet. Any sale will usually hold through Friday. True, prices may go lower on Cyber Monday. But the odds of finding a good price are in your favor.
3. On Black Friday, start online. The prices on Friday can be awesome, but about 70% of Black Friday deals are also available online, and 78% of them come with a free shipping offer, according to research from DealNews.com. Check just after midnight on Friday morning for new deals that didn’t go live on Thursday. Bonus: If an online retailer doesn’t have a physical store in your state, you may not have to pay sales tax.
4. Go for electronics. If you have a Blu-ray player or smartphone in mind, Black Friday is the day to shop, both online and in-store, according to experts. In past years, Apple has discounted iPads, iPods and other tech by 10% to 15% on Black Friday. Television prices will be at their lowest, too. In general, the best deal will be on an off-brand flat-screen, which is often discounted more deeply than a brand like Samsung.
5. Wait for Cyber Monday to purchase clothing. If you want a new outfit, hold off until Cyber Monday. Soft goods like cosmetics, shoes and apparel carry bigger discounts that day because retailers don’t want to compete with Friday’s giant tech bargains (a $5 shirt may not impress you when it’s next to a $200 TV). Last year Eddie Bauer gave 40% off on Cyber Monday, versus 30% on Black Friday. Also look for great travel deals on Monday.