10 Tools and Tricks to Help You Find the Best Black Friday Prices

The deals are out there. You just need to know where to look — and what tools to use.

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Black Friday is big business. The annual day-after-Thanksgiving shopping day, which traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season, is the largest-grossing day in the U.S. retail industry. In 2017, the National Retail Federation is predicting it will contribute a four-percent increase in overall holiday spending, to the tune of approximately $26 billion. With big spending comes a lot of deals meant to lure you in. But more savings than you think is out there. You just need to know where to look — and what tools to use. Here are some tips and tricks to get the most from this manic, magical tradition.

Start Early

Once upon a time, Black Friday started on … you know … Friday. But in the same vein of Christmas decorations appearing before Halloween, Black Friday now spans more than a week. And it began on Sunday. If you believed that you could turn your attention to it after Turkey Day, you’re already behind the curve. So start looking.

TVs Reign Supreme

According to Mike Catania, chief technology officer and founder of the savings community PromotionCode.org, televisions offer some of the biggest savings on Black Friday. “You’ll pay about 10 percent less than you would on Cyber Monday and between 20 and 33 percent [less than you would] during the rest of the fourth quarter,” he says. “We’ve seen a surge in offers for Ultra High-Def come in so far, so that’s precisely where the most significant savings will be.”

Follow Retailers on Twitter

More and more businesses are harnessing social media to reach their customers, so it’s no surprise that the method is also being used for Black Friday-exclusive deals. If you’ve been eyeing a store or company for your holiday shopping, now’s the time to follow it across its social media channels. Additionally, looking up hashtags like #BlackFriday, paired with the product you’re looking for, can also yield results. At the end of the week, you can always unfollow. But while the deals are hot, now’s the time to see what these companies have planned.

Sniff Out Deals Using Browser Extensions

Technology is your friend when it comes to excavating the best possible online prices this sale season. Michael Parrish DuDell, chief strategy officer of CouponFollow, recommends combining two tools in particular: price trackers and browser extensions. “There are numerous price trackers online that allow shoppers to get real-time, transparent data on their most desired products,” he says. Dudell also says they’ve seen a lot of shoppers score some savings using Coupon Follows’ own browser extension Cently. We also dig Honey, a browser extension that automatically searches the web for, and then applies, savings codes at checkout.

Use Incognito Mode to Find Deals

Always cross-check potential savings by visiting the page in “Incognito Mode” or “Private” in your web-browser, recommends Parrish. “Some retailers offer ‘entrance offers’ to new customers, which are reserved for shoppers who have never visited the site before,” he says. “By viewing the site in Incognito Mode, the retailer will think it’s your first visit and could provide a coupon.”

Shop Local

While you may be hard-pressed to find a neighborhood small business that will be offering a killer deal on a flat screen, plenty of small businesses are looking to go into the black — the real reason behind the day’s name — on both Friday and Small Business Saturday. There are even online options, with Etsy and Amazon’s Handmade providing a worldwide marketplace for local artisans’ unique wares.

Self-Serve

Some of the most dramatic deals come from the service industry, where markups are generally greater when compared to actual hard goods. Translation: that spa day may be offered at a shocking discount. Salons, restaurants, and even tour packages are all drastically reduced. If you’re all about the gift that keeps on giving, the service industry is the place to look this season. Check out this list of some of the deepest discounts at the most prestigious U.S. locations.

Keep the Receipt

Did you know: Lululemon’s apparel runs small, so many women size up. Same goes for Nike shoes. If you’re shopping for that special someone and feel compelled to wade into the murky waters of sizing, hold onto the tags and receipts in the near-inevitability of that other holiday tradition: returning or exchanging gifts. Pro tip: Many stores can print a gift receipt for you that allows for returns or exchanges without the recipient of your gift ever seeing how much you paid.

#OptOutside Instead

Consider this the nuclear option, but a growing trend in the past few years, spearheaded by outdoor retail giant REI, encourages people to skip Black Friday entirely and instead get outside. Hashtag #OptOutside, it’s the antithesis to the door-buster sales. “You don’t win in the long-term by pushing … what I call rampant consumerism,” REI CEO Jerry Stritzke told Business Insider. Instead of queuing up in the wee hours of Friday, grab the baby jogger and go looking for deer at sunrise in your local park. There will always be more sales, but these times with your child are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Besides, Cyber Monday Is Now The Best Day of Deals

Per Catania, Cyber Monday has now overtaken Black Friday as the big holiday shopping day — and that translates to bigger savings. “The trend has pointed this way over the past several years,” he says. “In 2016, Black Friday and Cyber Monday had about the same total sales ($3.34b vs. $3.45b), but 2017 will be the first year that Cyber Monday dominates Black Friday as the day to shop.” We’ve seen about 15 percent more coupons for Cyber Monday this year than we did last year versus the same number of Black Friday offers.

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