Shoppers willing to brave the crowds on Black Friday will be rewarded with some of the best deals of the season in what has become Amerca's annual retail blood sport.
If you're a MAC, there's good news: PCs won't have all the fun. Apple has joined in on the big shopping day. On Tuesday, the Apple Web site announced a special one-day sale for black Friday. "You'll find dozens of great iPad, iPod, and Mac gifts for everyone on your list," according to the Web site.
Earlier this week, in a one-two punch, Walmart delivered a blow to rivals by offering price matching for the big shopping weekend. Shoppers at the mammoth retailer can take a competitor's ad to the register, and have the price matched over the holiday weekend, starting on Friday.
Over at Amazon.com, black Friday shoppers can pick up a Samsung Ultra Compact "Touch of Color" Camcorder for $99; White Gold Round Diamond Stud Earrings for $199.99; Invicta Men's Multi-Function Watch fpr $59.99; Logitech Z-2300 Speakers are going for $89.99 and the Flip UltraHD Camcorder is down to $99.
It may be difficult to get your hands on "Call of Duty: Black Ops" at some retailers but GameStop has the video-game that made history by netting $650 million in five days on its list of guaranteed in stock promise. The video game retailer also has a few other popular titles such as Epic Mickey, Madden NFL 11 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. The large video game retailer will open the doors of 800 locations at midnight, and the rest at 5 a.m. Black Friday shoppers will find 2,500 titles for under $20.
The big event online at Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Piperlime will include free shipping for purchases above $50. In stores, Old Navy will offer affordable children clothes such as $10 kids jeans and $15 kids frost-free jackets. The Gap and Banana Republic will reduce some purchases by up to 40 percent before noon on black Friday. To help the shopping process, the Gap has a sweaters, tops, denim, accessories for $5, $10, $20 and $30 under "Gifts With Style."
The deals at Sears will begin on Thanksgiving Day. Doors will open from 9 a.m. to noon and customers will have a host of items to choose from including a Panasonic 58" 1080p Plasma TV and two Bonus Blu-ray DVDs for $1,099; RCA 19-inch class LCD HDTV for $129; twin sized Cannon heated blanket for $14.99.
At Kmart, on turkey day, consumers can shop from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for one the many deals offered by the company including a Panasonic 46-inch class plasma HDTV for $499.99; a Magellan RoadMate 1424 navigation system for $74.99; 7" netbook for $89.99; Vivitar 10.1MP digital camera for $39.99; Trim A Home 6.5-foot, 600 pre-lit trees for $79.99.
Radio Shack will let shoppers get a head start by offering early deals from Sunday, Nov. 21, to Wednesday, Nov. 24. During the four-day sale, Radio Shack will offer an Auvio 19-inch LCD HDV for $99.95; an Auvio pocket television for $69.99; and an instant $50 savings on a Samsung Galaxy Tab from Sprint.
On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the electronics store will offer a Memorex DVD player for $29.99; a limited amount of high definition Flip cameras for $129.99; an Xbox 360 for $199.99, and an ultra-slim 12-megapixel Nikon camera for $129.99.
Some TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores are expected to sell the iPad at a huge savings of around 20 percent, according to Computer World.. The company's Twitter feed confirmed, "the rumors are TRUE! Select (unadvertised) locations/limited quantity." But, instead of waiting until Friday, the iPads with a $100 price slash are being offered for $399 now.
Big retailers, online marketplaces and drug stores all are offering significant price cuts for Black Friday, when many retailers come out of the red and in to the black for the year by offering huge deals to consumers.
"What I am focusing [upon is] the drugstores," said Stephanie Nelson, the founder of online savings site CouponMom.com. "The drug stores have unbelievable Black Friday sales between Nov. 25 and Nov. 27, and you can get all kinds of free things, from medication to lotion to personal care items."
Shop Online for Black Friday Deals and Savings
Users who log on to the CouponMom Web site can find a list of all the freebies available at CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid on Black Friday that she said could be used for a snazzy gift basket.
The free items, which include everything from Advil to Colgate, have stipulations. Like door-busters, they are used to lure shoppers and are often limited in quantity.
"Some of the big deals are the limited-quantities deals, but there are so many great deals you don't have to subject yourself to the limited quantity deals," said Brad Wilson, founder and editor-in-chief of Bradsdeals, a daily deals website. To find the best deals, Wilson created BlackFriday2010.com, which displays a countdown clock and nationwide deals. The website gets a half a million hits a day by disclosing top deals from retailers such as Sears, Lowe's, Walmart and Costco.com.
There are alternatives for people who have shunned Black Friday because of the dangers or crowds.
An estimated 138 million people may walk the aisles on Black Friday.
"Approximately 60 million people say they will definitely hit the stores while another 78 million are waiting to see if the bargains are worth braving the cold and the crowds," according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Nelson, the coupon clipping mom, will shop online and stack her savings.
"If I'm shopping online, I look at retailer's deal, find an online coupon code, and actually do my shopping through a cash-back website," she said.
The savvy shopper maintains an online database that includes printable coupons and online coupons.
It also may be worth checking out the numerous websites springing up to help shoppers research deals before standing in line at the stores and coming home empty-handed.
Walmart says its doors will open at midnight on Friday morning -- only a few hours after many people finish their Thanksgiving meal. The discount retailer will offer Wrangler jeans for a low price of $9, and Nintendo Wii gamers can nab the game console for $199 with a $50 Walmart gift card.
Five hours after opening, at 5 a.m., Walmart will begin its sale on electronics. A 14-megapixel Kodak C183 will retail for $59; a 32-inch LCD HDTV at $198; a Tom-Tom GPS, $79; a Nintendo DS Lite, $89; and a 15.6-inch HP laptop for $298 as supplies last.
Shoppers at Sam's Club can expect a free breakfast, which includes an egg sandwich, yogurt and more, from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., while supplies last. The store with more than 47 million members will offer a half-carat diamond stud for $299, a Sony Blu-ray player for $94.88, and the Samsung Fascinate Smart Phone for 98 cents.
Online shopping marketplace Etsy will allow consumers to find the best Black Friday deals by searching its site with the term "Black Friday Etsy."
The deals will "vary by shop and are determined by the shop owners. They may include free shipping, buy one get one, etc. All details will be clearly stated in the item descriptions," said spokesman Adam Brown.
Over at Best Buy, the company is being tight-lipped on the exact items it will offer.
For customers interested in door busters at electronics retailers, "anything listed as a store buster -- those are going to be in very high demand -- and if you're looking to get one of those, you want to go early," said Sy Paulson, customer solutions manager at Best Buy, based in New York City. "Those products will have tickets that are distributed before the Black Friday door open. The store will distribute tickets for door buster items that include an expiration time. We obviously wanted as good as any other day for customer service. The last thing we want is a mad rush."
He said the electronics retailer will offer deals in all product categories.
"I think the e-reader category will be the new fresh addition to this assortment of great deals," said Paulson. "I think that's one of the newer categories of what customers are looking for at 5 a.m. in the morning."
Lori Davenport and a group of friends have lined up outside of Best Buy in St. Petersburg for Black Friday since Wednesday. Davenport, who holds the line during the daytime, is participating in the biggest buying day of the year for sentimental reasons.
It's the mom's seventh year outside the brick and mortar store, and the family lady says it's more about tradition than spending money. In 2004, Davenport and a friend stood in line for the first time after their teenage daughters coaxed them into the bonding experience for new mp3 players. This was in 2004, and the mothers couldn't say no to their girls who only wanted the music playing devices for Christmas. Since that day, the girls have grown up, with one now a mother and living on her own and the other serving in the military based in Japan.
"We do it as a tribute to our daughters. To just have the fun, and the socialization of it, says Davenport. The ladies, who have a cooler, a table, chairs, a laptop, a cell phone and other devices to keep them entertained during the wait have never been in the front of line. The group –which has grown to 10-- oft-times found themselves behind the same man who would allow many people to join the line with him causing them to lose their place in line. This year they set out to be the first.
Davenport, who recently became a grandmother, will look for television to gift to her daughter from her and other members of the family. Since Best Buy has yet to release the circulars, Davenport hasn't planned her shopping list but the family is considering Blue Ray Dvds or a computer if the price is right.
Finding Out About Black Friday Deals
Retailers tend to be mum about Black Friday deals.
"We've seen highly competitive weekend sales put on by Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon in what eventually turns into a big one-upping contest," said Michael Brim, founder of BFads.net. "For instance, Walmart will put an item on sale for a certain price. Then we'll see either [or sometimes, both] Amazon and Best Buy come out and price-match that price."
Target would not comment on the buzz surrounding what may be one of its popular items. The best deal BF Ads founder Michael Brim has seen is the unconfirmed 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV from Westinghouse for $298.
When asked for confirmation, Target asked consumers interested in learning what the retail giant has to offer to sign up for alerts on Target.com/BlackFriday starting Nov. 17.
"Our full two-day sale ad will be available online Nov. 24 and in homes Nov. 25," company spokeswoman Jessica Carlson said.
Regardless of the cost cutting, shoppers should take advantage of cash-back offers. Nelson uses UPromise, a website that lets you earn as a percentage of your savings towards a college account. To go even farther than that, she gets cash back from her credit card, too.
Nelson said she sometimes can increase her savings by clicking to her favorite stores from links on her credit card company's website.
There are other ways to find out about Black Friday deals.
Check out Gottadeal.com, which includes leaked circulars for BJ's Wholesale , AJ Wright, Bigs Lots and Old Navy.
Also, check out the website of your favorite retailer for updates on deals.
Last but not least, Nelson suggests checking out Facebook.
"So many retailers have developed Facebook pages," she said. "They're going to put deals on their Facebook page first."