20 Best Black Friday Deals: Why You Might Want to Get Up Early and Fight the Crowds

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With one week before Black Friday, and with the Black Friday ads from most retailers leaked to the media, the time seems ripe to put together your list of must-gets, sharpen your elbows to fight off other shoppers, and plot your trip to the mall.

Or not. In a Consumer Reports poll, only 24% of Americans say they’ll go shopping on Black Friday, and that 44% will go shopping either on Black Friday or the weekend to follow. That’s down 7% from last year.

Why the falloff in shoppers? One reason has to the Black Friday overload caused by the ubiquity of Black Friday-type deals, which surfaced as early as July.

So, before hitting the mall on the actual Black Friday, the first question you must ask is: Are the deals really good enough to justify shopping on one of the most crowded days of the year? On a rare weekday when the whole family isn’t working and has a chance to hang out? And on a day that’s often cold and nasty, especially if you live in the northern part of the country and your only chance of snagging a deal requires you to leave your warm bed before sunrise?

Dan de Grandpre, of dealnews.com, sits in the Black Friday skeptic camp, arguing that many of the deals being advertised are available for online purchase at the same price, and since most retailers offer free shipping, there’s little reason to trek to the mall and deal with the crowds. “Think about it. How many days a year do you get off from work?” he asks. “Do you really want to spend the day shopping, when the people around you are surly and rushed, and the store employees are overwhelmed and in a bad mood? I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting out of bed early to deal with all that, just to save a few bucks on a sweater.”

Another concern is that it is difficult to verify if, in fact, the Black Friday deals that have been leaked will actually be on sale at the prices being circulated, or if some retailers may undercut the competition and offer even better prices than what’s been leaked. We won’t know for sure about any of this until retailers release their official Black Friday prices.

With all that in mind, I asked shopping and deal-finding experts to point out their picks for the best Black Friday deals they’ve seen, and their answers are below. Note that more than one expert has chosen a certain vacuum cleaner, TV, digital camera, and e-reader for his shortlist of best deals—so you’d think that these are especially worthwhile deals.

Michael Brim, of bfads.net, highlights these Black Friday picks:
Westinghouse 40″ LCD HDTV for $298 at Target. Brim says:

This is far away, the best deal I’ve seen this year on Black Friday. It’s interesting because while Target always has strong Black Friday sales, BestBuy and Walmart almost always beat them out in terms of top electronics offerings; not this year. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a 40″+ 1080p HDTV for under $500. Walmart’s offering (Emerson 42″ 1080p LCD for $398) is both $100 more expensive and by a less respected brand.

NOOK WiFi eReader for $99.99 at Best Buy. Brim says:

While the retail price of the Nook is $150, eReaders are a popular item this Black Friday and seeing a 33% ($50) drop on a newer, highly desired item, is a great buy. It’ll probably also force Amazon’s hand in lowering the price of their Kindle eReader, as Amazon often directly competes and price-matches the brick-and-mortar retailers.

Blu-ray Movie Titles for $5-15 at Walmart, Meijer, Target, etc. Brim says:

I feel that this is the year that Blu-ray finally starts to noticeably cut into DVD sales. We haven’t seen any fantastic deals on Blu-ray players (there are a few on BF for $60, but they normally retail for $80; so not that big of savings), but the cost of building a Blu-ray library has been cut drastically. The $5 titles are for big, blockbuster movies too (e.g. Live Free or Die Hard, Gran Torino, Superbad, Ice Age). For $10 you can get even more recent movies such as The Blind Side, Get Him to the Greek, Taken, Invictus and Harry Potter.

The big thing to note about the Blu-ray deals is that it’s not just one store offering them, it’s multiple stores, meaning that there’s a good chance we might see similar priced sales in the future (especially leading up to Christmas).

Garmin nüvi 255WT GPS for $99.99 at BestBuy. Brim says:

This isn’t the most inexpensive GPS available on Black Friday, but it’s probably the best GPS for the price. Because it’s not the cheapest and not a doorbuster, there is a chance it might get overlooked by the masses; meaning a better chance of a smart BF shopper being able to get it.

Canon PowerShot SX120 IS 10MP Digital Camera for $129.00 at Target. Brim says:

Same theme as the GPS, not the most inexpensive and not a doorbuster. But this camera regularly retails for $220, getting it for $130 is a great deal when you consider that many other lower quality cameras are selling for only $30-40 less.

Brent Shelton, of FatWallet, names these as the top Black Friday deals:
Dyson DC14 Vacuum Cleaner, $219.99 at Sears ($399.99 now)

Dewalt (DC970K-2) 18V Cordless Drill, $89.99 at ACE Hardware ($149.99 now)

Western Digtital Elements External Hard Drive, $69.00 at Target ($139.99 now). Shelton says he is planning on getting this one for himself: “That is the lowest price I’ve seen and I do a lot of video and save the originals, which eats mega memory. Wish I could go get it right now!”

PSP Holiday Bundle with PSP 3000, 1GB Memory Stick, Little Big Planet & Karate Kid, $127.00 at Target ($169.99 now for PSP300 only)

And for guys: Campbell Hausfeld 3-Gallon Hot Dog Air Compressor, $59.99 at True Value ($89.99 now)

Brad Wilson, of BradsDeals and BlackFriday2010.com, spreads the love, with his top picks coming from five different stores:
Old Navy – Kids Jeans $10, Adults Jeans $15
Target – Chefmate Appliances $3
Walmart – 32″ Emerson LCD TV $198
Sears – Dyson DC14 Vacuum $219
Best BuyNook Wifi eReader $99.99

Edgar Dworsky, of Consumer World, offers Black Friday shopping tips and his favorite doorbuster deals, which include:

$10 off $25 coupon (Macy’s); a 40″ Westinghouse HDTV for $298, a WD 2TB ext. hard drive $69, Sony Blu-Ray player $99 (at Best Buy too), Canon SX120 digital camera $129, small kitchen appliances $3 (WM too), adult sherpa hoodies $10 (all at Target); Seagate 1TB ext. hard drive $49.99, Garmin 265WT GPS $99.99 a/r, Norton Anti Virus free a/r, (Staples); small kitchen appliances valued to $40 for $9.99 after rebate (Kohl’s, Macy’s, JC Penney, WM); adult jeans $15 (Old Navy); 150 toys 50% off (Toys-R-Us )

Finally, there are a couple of deals on toys that just might get one of the adults in my house (Hint: It ain’t me) off to the mall in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday. This list isn’t necessarily based on the best overall deals out there, but is highly specified based on what Santa thinks certain residents of our house will be happy to find under the tree on Christmas morning. Both of these items are supposed to be on sale at the prices listed below at Target, so (fingers crossed) this should be a one-stop shopping outing:

Lego Space Police Galactic Enforcer for $64.99 ($109.99 now)

Toy Story 3 Andy’s Toys Gift Pack for $29.99 ($49.99 now)

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