Lifestyle & Belief

Bargain hunting before Black Friday


SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Customers shop for electronics items during 'Black Friday' at a Best Buy store on November 25, 2011 San Diego, California.


Sandy Huffaker

In case you haven't heard 40 is the new 20, and Thanksgiving is the new Black Friday. Scratch that — the Friday before Thanksgiving is the new Black Friday.

Black Friday is old news. Every year the deals start earlier, and this year is no exception. Wal-Mart Stores set the tone this year with plans for an 8 p.m. Thanksgiving opening (last year, it was 10 p.m.) and other retailers were forced to follow: Sears at 8 p.m., Target at 9 p.m., and Toys 'R Us at 8 p.m.

After all, Wal-Mart described this holiday season in their recent third-quarter conference call as another competitive holiday where the 800-pound gorilla will focus on low price and value, and it is up to the competition to make sure they don't lose market share.

Nevermind employees are angry and busy signing petitions and staging walk-outs as we approach Black Friday, when 10 percent of holiday sales are at stake. Good luck to the brave who are willing to stand up to the retailer and defend family time, but with a troubling unemployment rate, don't expect the masses to walk out and risk their jobs over turkey time.

But there is good news if you feel the same as the disgruntled Wal-Mart employees: you do not need to push your chair back from the turkey table early this year in order to get a deal. This year, pre-Black Friday sales are all the rage.

Check out Wal-Mart's early start now through Wednesday. But buyer beware: read the fine print that tells you "supplies limited." In addition, some deals are online while others are in-store.

Target is also not asleep at the wheel and is offering, "Beat the rush with coupon savings," valid from Sunday until Wednesday. Again, read the fine print, as many offers are in-store only, quantities are limited, limited to one per household, and no rain checks.

Sears recently reported another disappointing quarter and also won't be left behind. The company started its doorbusters on Nov. 18.

Best Buy, another struggling retailer, started the "Countdown to Thanksgiving Weekend Sale" where they will be putting a handful of deals on sale each day now through Wednesday.

If you are looking for the higher-end goods, you won't be left out of the early-bird rush. Saks is already 40 percent off, and if you encounter a helpful sales person they might even share the plans for further additional markdowns for Black Friday (and if you love it, and want to reserve it now, they might even put it aside for you and charge your Saks card on Black Friday, and you don't even need to get out of bed.)

If you are a last-minute deal seeker, watch out for Black Friday Turkey Tactics. Looking forward to working off that turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie? No problem, there are many deals to be had. Again, buyer beware. Deals are staggered. So if you show up at Walmart's 8 p.m. opening, you might have to wait. Some deals start at 8 p.m., while others do not kick off until 10 p.m., midnight or even the following morning. The good news is unlike last year, Wal-Mart is offering guaranteed in-stock for the deals taking place between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Finally, a raincheck! That includes the Ipad 2 with a $75 Walmart gift certificate.

However, that is the exception. Most retailers will offer only deals "while supplies last." So if you have not already pitched that tent, you might be out of luck.

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