Here's some Black Friday shopping advice: Stay home.
Ditch the stores, crowds and lines, and instead scour the online sites, where the deals and discounts often eclipse what you'll find in stores, says Brad Wilson, CEO of Bradsdeals.com, a coupon web site that monitors retailers' promotional strategies year-round.
E-commerce retailers aren't burdened by the overhead of brick-and-mortar stores, and sales tax is often waived -- "which makes it 25% to 30% less to shop online than brick-and-mortar stores," he estimates.
Wilson weighs in on where to snag some big bargains on shoes, electronics, jewelry, apparel and home goods during the kick off to the holiday shopping season.
While Amazon.com (AMZN) is highly price competitive on consumer electronics, they're not the only ones.
Also check out Buy.com, Newegg.com,Tigerdirect.com and BuyDig.com for deals on everything from tablet computers to smart phones to HDTVs. "You're [likely to] find as many deals there as on Amazon," Wilson says.
Zappos.com offers unrivaled customer service, but you'll find bigger footwear deals on Shoes.com, Shoemall.com and Shoebuy.com on a wide range of brands such as UGG, Timberland, Calvin Klein, Steve Madden and Aerosoles, to name a few. "They'll have more of a selection than any physical shoe store on the planet," Wilson says.
While markups are built into the prices of retailers like Tiffany (TIF) to fund marketing campaigns and store operating costs, Blueline.com buys from some of the same wholesalers, selling everything from diamond rings to charm bracelets and gold earrings for an estimated 20% markup-- about five times less than the national jewelry chains, he says.
On Black Friday weekend, mine Overstock.com -- where retailers and suppliers go to unload excess goods -- as well as SmartBargains.com, a division of private sale site Rue La La, for designer duds at a discount.
Also check out Asos.com for a bargain "boutique" shopping experience, Wilson says. It's where you'll find discounts from independent boutiques and clothing labels, new designers and sellers of vintage fare.
For savings on outdoor apparel, try Moosejaw.com. "Moosejaw is great for brands like North Face and Patagonia," Wilson said.
As home goods such as cookware, small appliances and bedding are "big volume sellers" at national brick-and-mortar chains during the holidays, check out Macys.com (M), Target.com (TGT), Kohls.com (KSS) and Sears.com (SHLD) for deals. The sheer velocity of sales of these items in November and December means the big chains can afford to sell housewares at steep discounts, Wilson says.
And before you thumb shop this Black Friday, don't forget to sweeten the deal with a coupon. Checkout sites like Bradsdeals.com and Retailmenot.com for online coupons.
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