Retailers are scrambling to attract you earlier (10 p.m. at Toys R Us and midnight at Macy's, Kohl's, Target and Best Buy) with more deals than ever, so it begs the question: How do you tell a good deal from a bad one in a shopping frenzy? I called up Andrea Woroch, savings specialist from Kinoli Inc., to talk frugal shopping this year.
"First things first," says Woroch. "Don't go out on Black Friday without a list. Use a site like BlackFriday.com to check retailer ads and research stores, brands, product features, regular prices and sale prices beforehand. Don't just go for very limited door busters you may not be able to get."
She also said your best protection against deal- and crowd-confusion is a smartphone in your pocket and some new free technology.
- Stay glued to retailers' social media outlets because Facebook- and Twitter-only time-restricted specials and deals will pop up all night and day.
- Take advantage of retailer price-matching by using any bar code scanner app on any item to find the lowest price. Sears and Home Depot will each offer an additional 10 percent off. Wal-Mart will provide gift cards in the amount of any price difference, and Bed, Bath & Beyond will even price-match items found on Amazon.com.
- Create your list using the Holiday Gift List app, which provides useful details such as model numbers.
"Overspending is the pitfall of door busters at discount retailers," says David Ackerman, marketing director at Orlando Fashion Square. "If you're one of those 100 people to get the deal without getting trampled or waiting in line for 10 hours, then it might be worth it," he says.
Truth is, those limited door busters are often for generic or exclusive brands with features or bundles you can't compare.
"Don't get suckered into buying anything you have not planned or researched because that's just what the retailers are banking on," says Woroch.
Shop where you 're already familiar with stores, brands, items and prices on your list, and you'll easily recognize excellent savings when you see them with special Black Friday coupons or timing. And before you hand over the cash, says Woroch, check the return policy for all Black Friday purchases.
A new study found that only 34 percent of Americans were planning to hit the stores during Black Friday. Will you be one of them this year?