WHERE TO FIND DEALS
Numerous websites and apps promise to find the absolute best Black Friday deals this holiday season. But who has time to check them all? At Cheapism.com, finding bargains is a top priority, and we've come to rely on some tried-and-true sources. Here are some of the most reliable, as well as some other resources that might come in handy for holiday season shopping.
Related: Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: Which Holiday Has the Best Deals?
As fans of FatWallet know, this site is useful year-round. For Black Friday, it goes all out. In addition to the iPhone and iPad app, the Black Friday guide is a top-flight online resource. Shoppers can browse and filter sales in many different ways -- by store, category, percent off or dollar amount off, brand, and more. The site scans the actual advertisements, and visitors can click on specific items to see a pop-up with details of each deal.
BFAds.net is a FatWallet sister site devoted entirely to Black Friday. It will be powering FatWallet's coverage of the day and, for the first time, using Facebook Live to broadcast Black Friday news and analysis. It has an extensive list of ads as well as tons of practical information, including buying guides and store hours, and consumers can sign up for a daily newsletter for updates on leaked store ads and details on early Black Friday sales and savings.
Slickdeals provides a wealth of information for Black Friday shoppers. In addition to the traditional ad scans, it features an Editors' Guide that showcases an evolving list of the best deals. The Black Friday Discussion section is an excellent source for details such as what time to arrive at stores. This is a very interactive site, and posted questions are bound to get responses.
DealNews devotes an entire section to the big shopping day. It features ad scans along with a wealth of information about deal predictions, top deals, deals to avoid, information on pre-Black Friday sales, the best times to shop, and so on.
BlackFriday.com provides the same ad scans and information as other such sites. What stands out is its Wish List feature. When browsing deals, shoppers can star an item for a personal wish list, track the associated deals, print the list, and share it with friends and family. It's particularly helpful for consumers sharing the shopping responsibility with someone else.
RetailMeNot doesn't focus solely on Black Friday, but it's a good resource before and during Black Friday shopping: It provides coupon codes for scores of products that can be entered online, printed at home and brought to the store, or pulled up on the app to flash at checkout. The site also shows trending and top deals.
This year-round bargain site's Black Friday page is planning a live webcast throughout the day and is taking questions for its experts to answer online. This comprehensive site has forums, predictions, deal alerts, a comparison chart that can be searched and filtered for products and stores, and even an archive of ads by store and year back to 2004.
FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
Now's the time to make social media work for you. When a retailer's Black Friday ad is released, followers on Facebook and Twitter are among the first to know. Some retailers get creative with Black Friday sales announcements on social media platforms. In previous years Lowe's created a game that Facebook users had to play to unlock the holiday ad. Shoppers can also follow some of the Black Friday websites featured here for minute-to-minute updates.
RETAILER EMAIL LISTS
In the absence of a Facebook or Twitter account (or if it sits dormant most of the time), sign up for retailers' mailing lists to be notified as soon as an ad appears. The vendor will email the ad or pass along information about where to find it. It's also possible to stay current with the websites discussed here by signing up for their mailing lists or newsletters.
Perhaps the most underutilized tool on this list is Google Alerts. Shoppers can create an alert for the phrase "Black Friday," and Google will scan the web constantly and send email notifications whenever the term is mentioned. While some of the mentions aren't relevant, more often than not, the alert turns up a new Black Friday ad or details about a specific deal.
Do you use the Google Chrome web browser? If not, this Chrome-only app may convert you just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping. Honey finds and combines coupon codes automatically during online checkout (although it may work better to scroll through and input suggested codes manually instead of relying on the Honey button). At some stores, it even offers cash back. Time calls the app "basically just free money."
Consumers hitting the stores with an Apple or Android smartphone should download the free ShopSavvy app, which includes a barcode scanner -- just take a photo of a product's barcode and the well-reviewed app does all the comparison shopping on the fly, revealing if there's a better deal nearby or online.
Anyone feeling unprepared for Black Friday this year may have a rescuer in Shopular, a free app that uses the GPS in any Apple or Android phone to get consumers up to speed on sales immediately. Walk into any store or mall covered by Shopular and active deals and discounts appear, directing a customer where to go and revealing what they'll find there. Thousands of online customer reviews put this app in the 4.5- to 5-star range.
Cheapism.com strives to post the most useful and relevant Black Friday information, from deals to duds to ways to shop efficiently. We cover specific deals, store hours, what to buy and not buy on Black Friday, shopping tips, and more. Check the blog frequently for updates. Consumers also will find product reviews for dozens of categories.