No, it's not too early to start planning for Black Friday.
As usual, the shopping frenzy that begins shortly after Thanksgiving dinner will abound with sales for locals shopping for holiday gifts and hoping to bag genuine bargains while doing it. But experts will tell you, you won't get far without proper preparations.
In other words, just because an item has a sale sign on the eve of Thanksgiving or the following Friday doesn't automatically mean it's a good buy.
So I went to some of South Florida's largest retailers to get insider tips on how to get the most out of your time and cash on Black Friday.
Don't count on the door buster deal, unless you're willing to stand in line for hours. Doorbusters are the items, from Blu-ray players to computers, jewelry to children's clothes, that are discounted the most. It wouldn't be surprising to find products slashed in price by 50 percent or more. "But most retailers will have a limited amount of doorbusters and they will go fast," said Lary Sinewitz, vice president of BrandsMart U.S.A., the largest retailer of consumer electronics in Southeast Florida.
Last year a couple of thousand customers lined up outside BrandsMart stores in But if you're bent on buying doorbusters, Sinewitz recommends checking online and print advertisements ahead of time for inventory numbers. Some stores, like BrandsMart, list quantities of deep-sale items available, others do not.
Expect the biggest discounts on the season's most popular items. For instance, Sinewitz says the electronics items that will have the most sales tagged onto them will be tablets, smartphones and related accessories, such as cases and car chargers. Large screen TVs will also see some of the most dramatic price cuts for Black Friday.
Typically, he says, the latest products, such as Samsung's new 75-inch 3D smart TV (capable of connecting to the Web via WiFi) or Sharp's 90-inch version will not likely be on discount, or not much of one. But then again, anything can happen on Black Friday (it's typically up to the vendor).
Visit your favorite stores now for research. "The Black Friday experience is enhanced when done strategically," said Elise Askenazi, spokesperson for Boca Raton-based Office Depot. That means visiting stores now to ask anything from when the stores open (For instance, BrandsMart will open at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Office Depot at 5 a.m. on Friday) to what features the latest Windows 8 personal computer comes with or that of a Nikon DSLR camera. It is also worth checking prices now so you can get a better sense of whether a Black Friday sale is a bargain and to find out what accessories you may want. Store staff will be too busy dealing with crowds to spend a lot of time helping shoppers make decisions.
Bring a friend, Askenazi suggests. You can head to the aisles while a partner gets in line, saving time.
"Your job on Black Friday as a shopper is to get the product off the shelf and to the register and then be on your merry way," she said. "So now is the time to do your homework."
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