Nov. 24, 2009 -- Millions of shoppers will hit the stores this weekend in search of the best Black Friday deals. This holiday season the average household is expected to spend $683 on gifts, according to the National Retail Federation.
But where should you head to find the best buys?
Hobson suggested Best Buy's "Doorbusters," which offer deals on everything from laptops to digital cameras. For instance, there is a 10 megapixel digital camera for $49.99, down from $99.99
Or try Walmart, which is offering a $78 blu-ray player.
But if you prefer clothes to gadgets Hobson suggested looking at Target. It is selling men's jeans, khakis or dress pants for $8.
But Hobson cautioned that because retailers have cut their inventories this year there may not be as many discounts as last year and some items may be hard to find.
For example, Hobson pointed to one of this year's most popular gifts, a Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster. It is a battery-operated toy hamster which was selling for $8. But because of its popularity most stores are sold out and now these Hamsters are being sold upwards of $60 on E-Bay or Amazon.
Hobson said that although some retailers will have those popular items in stock, she warned that they might only be available in the store, not online, and quantities could be limited to one per person.
How to Keep Track of the Sales
Retailers have been advertising their black Friday sales in newspapers and online, but keeping track of all of them can quickly become overwhelming.
Hobson suggested a few helpful Web sites which compile the information for you.
CyberMonday, Black Friday Ads and BlackFriday.info all post ads, special offers and other helpful shopping information for a variety of major retailers. For example, Hobson said shoppers can search more than 550 retailers on CyberMonday by item to find the best deals.
How to Brave the Black Friday Crowds
If you decide to fight the crowds Hobson has a few suggestions on the best way to shop.
First, be sure to read the fine print in the circulars. Some items may come with a caveat such as "while supplies last" or "one per person."
Hobson said it can also help to team-up and arrive early. Stores such as Best Buy hand out tickets for their most popular items in an attempt to control the post-Thanksgiving chaos.
Cyber Monday is the New Black Friday for Online Retailers
If you decide to avoid the crowds and stay home to shop online you should know that Cyber Monday is to online retailers what Black Friday is to traditional stores, according to Hobson.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is considered the kick-off day to the online holiday shopping season. But Hobson cautioned that if you shop online for popular items that have limited quantities you may receive an e-mail after you place your order that your item is on backorder or that it's out of stock.