Getting a jump on Black Friday deals

Daniel Vasquez
Contact ReporterSun Sentinel Columnist

Want to get an early jump on the best bargains on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? There's no reason to wait. Toys R Us, Walmart and and other major retailers began offering Black Friday specials the first weekend of November.

Now's a good time to come up with a game plan. And this year, shoppers will be able to use an unprecedented variety of sources for deals details – including retailer websites, Black Friday blogs, mobile phone apps, shopping circulars, mailings, newspaper ads and even social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Black Friday is named for the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It's a good time to take advantage of widespread discounts on clothes, appliances, TVs and more, whether you're shopping for holiday gifts or replacement items for the home.

Big-ticket items expected to have deep discounts this year include HDTVs, Blu-ray players and video cameras.

There are signs that shoppers may spend slightly more cash this holiday than last season. A recent Consumer Reports poll found only about 33 percent of holiday shoppers plan to spend less this year than last season, down from about 42 percent in 2008. The survey also suggests about 47 percent of shoppers plan to stick to holiday budgets, down from 59 percent in 2008.

Translation: More people will be spending more and fewer people will be sticking to a budget. But here's the most important thing you need to know before hitting the stores: Just because a deal is offered on Black Friday doesn't mean it will end up being a real deal.

Staying on top of alerts about in-store and online price cuts, competitor offerings and real-time deals are the best ways to make sure you save money. Fortunately, receiving those alerts is easy as ever as major retailers find more ways to get them to you by using any media – and all media – necessary.

"We are going to have ads in radio, TV, newspaper, text, direct mail and e-mail bursts," said Michael Perlman, CEO of South Florida-based BrandsMart USA. "The best thing for customers to do is sign up for our e-mail specials on our website and check newspaper ads online or by buying a newspaper."

Like many major retailers, BrandsMart USA will offer customers different deals on different media platforms. "There will be deals for online-only shoppers and for store-only visitors," Perlman said.

In other words, the more places you can shop -- at local brick-and-mortar stores as well as various Web storefronts -- the more chances you have to find better bargains, or at least more of them. The same will be true of sales between now and Cyber Monday, the first Monday following Black Friday, also known to be a busy holiday deals day, particularly online.

Websites: Visit the Websites of your favorite stores early and often, such as, and (you get it, typically the name of the store followed by .com). If you want to avoid long lines, look for online deals. For instance, recently advertised 50 percent off Criterion DVD and Blu-ray discs, including Modern Times with Charles Chaplin and Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas. If you don't mind braving the holiday parking lots, keep an eye out for alerts on in-store deals.

Black Friday sites: Compare deals by checking sites specializing in Black Friday ad releases, such as,, BlackFriday.FM, and on your desktop, laptop or mobile phone. These sites are already posting Black Friday ads from Kohls, Sears and K-Mart. Keep an eye on brand stores known for their performance with online sales. For instance, PC World last year named the following sites among the best for Black Friday shopping, Amazon, Apple, Dell, and Best Buy.

Texts and e-mails: More than ever retailers are turning to mobile phone users, e-mail and text. Check store Web sites for details on how to sign up. You can typically sign up for e-mail alerts in less than a minute, but consider taking the extra time to set up a free e-mail account to be used for such marketing purposes. That way you won't have your personal e-mail account bombarded by third-party messages. Turn to texts for another source for bargain hunting. For instance, for BrandsMart USA text BMART to 91032, and for Amazon, text GB to 262966 and receive texts about special deals. Starting this holiday, Gap is guaranteeing at least two personalized text deals for anyone who signs up for Gap Mobile 4 U via a secure page

Social networking: Retailers want you to friend them and follow them online, and they're offering deals to get your digital attention on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. For instance, you can find Starbucks on Facebook and follow the coffee making icon on Twitter @Starbucks, which allows you to add cash to your Starbucks card account or fill up a friend's account as a gift. You can also follow Macys on Twitter @MacysInc and GameStop @GameStop. The latter recently tweeted an alert for $5 off Wii games.

Daniel Vasquez can be reached at or 954-356-4219 or 561-243-6686. His condo column runs Wednesdays in Your Money and at Check out Daniel's Condos & HOAs blog for news, information and tips related to life in community associations at You can also read his consumer column Mondays in Your Money and at

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