Best Holiday Shopping Days (Hint: Black Friday Often Isn't)

Damian Dovarganes/AP
Black Friday, the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving celebration of parking lot melees and shopping as a contact sport, has been popular because of the money you could save. Only, it's no longer the king of discount dates.

DealNews had already reported that Thanksgiving sported the most deals, with Cyber Monday coming in second and Black Friday a clear third. But if you really want to save money, you should plan more strategically. Depending on what you want, different days offer the biggest bang for the buck.

A study of five years of data by Savings.com shows that depending on the category -- toys, apparel, electronics or novelties (books, flowers, candy, wine and other products) -- widely different days offer the best savings, according to information sent to DailyFinance by Savings.com. And Black Friday rarely shows up.

"One of the things we say a lot is Black Friday is dead," Savings.com spokesperson Meghan Heffernan told DailyFinance. "Not that there aren't deals on Friday, but most of the deals that were Black Friday deals are available well in advance. The day has lost a lot of that significance."

Here are some of the calendar ins and outs for getting the most savings.

Toys

You want to start early, as in the day before Thanksgiving, or Nov. 26 this year, when you should be able to get 30 percent off. That could be a little impractical, given getting ready for Thursday and the possibility of travel. But Dec. 8 and 19 are the second- and third-best days, so you even have time to get rid of your leftovers.

Apparel

If you want 30 percent to 50 percent off on clothing and accessories, Cyber Monday (Dec. 1 this year) is your best choice. Otherwise, keep Dec. 11 free for the second-best day or Dec. 18 for the third-best.

Electronics

The sad news: The best day to save 20 percent or more off electronics was Nov. 1. But fear not, because the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and, the one exception, Black Friday are your second- and third-best choices.

Novelties

In this area, the percentage off can vary widely, depending on the specific product. The first-, second- and third-best savings days are Dec. 15, 22 and 23, giving you an excuse to procrastinate.

And, according to Savings.com, the top online retailers for deals include Macys (M), Sears (SHLD), Kohl's (KSS), JCPenney (JCP), Expedia (EXPE), Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Amazon (AMZN).

For some additional intelligence, the Adobe Digital Index indicated that in 2013, online prices hit rock bottom on Thanksgiving. Online sales start the Monday before Thanksgiving. And you can ask stores to match online prices -- other than Black Friday specials -- and you have a chance of getting a deal.
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