Black Friday can be overwhelming these days -- some stores aren't opening Thursday night, and some offer most of their Black Friday deals online.
Then you have Amazon, which is running new deals every day this week and will be featuring flash "lightning sales" all day on Black Friday. (But note that many Amazon doorbusters can be very hard to get online, as they sell out within a minute or two of going live.)
So which store should you shop? It all depends what you are looking for.
Name brand TVs: Best Buy - Best Buy excels at this, as they are stocked with hundreds of Samsung, Sony, and LG 4KTVs right now. Just remember that Black Friday does not always offer the lowest prices on big-name brands, which may be cheaper at Super Bowl time.
Dirt-cheap TVs: Wal-Mart, Target - This is Wal-Mart's and Target's specialty. If you don't mind an Insignia, Hisence, Westinghouse, RCA or other second-tier brand, discount stores will have the most discount sets at ridiculously low prices.
iPads and Xbox One: All Stores - All the big stores have these on sale at very similar prices, so it depends what else you are looking for. Note that Target typically has smaller crowds than Wal-Mart or Best Buy, so that is one advantage right there.
$20 Android tablets: We are not going to say who has the best deals on these, because every year we end up doing reports two days after Christmas on how they broke, overheated or never worked right in the first place. If you want one, buy at your own risk.
Designer and name-brand clothing: Macy's - Macy's wins this one hands down if you are looking for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, North Face or other name brands. They will have huge sales all weekend, plus bonus coupons.
Affordable clothing: Kohl's - This is Kohl's specialty -- good, solid clothing. Plus you get Kohl's Cash back on each purchase, making Friday a great day to shop.
Big appliances: Sears, Best Buy - Black Friday is really a great day to buy a fridge, even though most people don't.
Small kitchen appliances: Macy's, J.C. Penney, Kohl's, Sears - These stores love using blenders and crockpots as loss leaders to get you in the door. Lots of items are $10 or less. Macy's even has some free after rebate.
The Top 25 doorbusters
For this, we turned to our friends at BFAds.net, who analyzed all the doorbuster deals to find the best ones at each store.
Remember that these are early-bird doorbusters, -- and there may be 50 or fewer items in stock, with no rain checks. So, get there early if you don't want to be disappointed.
Here is their list of Good, Better, and Best for 2016:
- Amazon - Up to 50% off toys from Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher Price and others
- Kohl’s - Star Wars - Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid $119.99 (+$30 Kohl’s Cash)
- Dick’s Sporting Goods - Fitbit Surge Smartwatch $179.98 (deal listing)
- hhgregg - Proscan 55" 4K Ultra HD TV $299.99 (deal listing)
- Bass Pro Shops - RedHead 5-Pocket Jeans $9.97 (deal listing)
- Macy’s - Hawke & Co. Outfitter Mens Packable Down Jacket (Assorted Colors) 75% off (deal listing)
- Lowe’s - Holiday Living 7.5-ft Pre-Lit York Pine Artificial Christmas Tree $79.00 (deal listing)
- Macy’s - KitchenAid Artisan 5-qt. Stand Mixer $279.99 (deal listing)
- Sam’s Club - iRobot Roomba 665 Vacuum Cleaning Robot $269.98 (deal listing)
- Target - iPad Pro 9.7” starting at $449 (deal listing)
- Target - Jetson V6 Hoverboard w/ Bluetooth Speakers $284.99 (deal listing)
- Dick’s Sporting Goods - Sole Cardio E25 Elliptical or F63 Treadmill 50% off + $50 Dick’s Cash (deal listing)
- Walmart - Any Apple iPhone or Samsung Phone $0 down +$250 gift card with AT&T/Verizon contract
- Sears - Craftsman 41-in. 12-Drawer Ball Bearing Tool Chest
- Lowe’s - Up to 40% off appliances $349 and up + up to $450 in gift cards with purchase of 2 or more
- Kohl’s - Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera $449.99 (+$135 Kohl’s Cash) (deal listing)
- Target - Hisense 50" 4K 120Hz LED Smart HDTV $249.99 (deal listing)
- Best Buy - Microsoft 12.3" Surface Pro 4 Bundle w/Intel Core m3, 128GB, Win 10, Keyboard $599.99 (deal listing)
- Kohl’s - Xbox One S 500GB Minecraft or Battlefield 1 Console Bundle $249.99 (+$75 Kohl’s Cash)
- Best Buy - Xbox One S 1TB Battlefield 1 SE Bundle + extra Wireless Controller $299.99
- Wal-Mart - Philips 55" 4K 2160p 60Hz LED Smart HDTV $298.00 (deal listing)
- Best Buy - Toshiba 49" 4K 60Hz LED HDTV w/ Built-in Chromecast $199.99 (deal listing)
- Kohl’s - Nest Learning Thermostat $199.99 (+$60 Kohl’s Cash) (deal listing)
- Target - Apple Watch Series 1 $198 (deal listing)
- T-Mobile - Galaxy S7 + Gear VR + $50 in Oculus Content FREE w/Trade-in & 24 mo. T-Mobile ONE
You can check the highlights of all the big Black Friday ads by downloading the free BFAds app to your smartphone.
And, as always, don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). The information included in this article was obtained independently by Scripps reporters. While purchases from links inserted in this article may result in a commission for Scripps, no Scripps reporter benefited from that commission.
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)