Your Black Friday Cheat Sheet: 5 Things to Look for When Shopping

Black Friday has gotten so big over the last decade that you really need a game plan if you're going to get the best deals without also getting overwhelmed.

Here are five things to know that will help you get a head start on your fellow shoppers:

1. Check out online deals before they hit the stores: For the past several years, Black Friday has started much earlier than midnight on Thanksgiving. Many retailers are rolling out the same deals they're offering on the big shopping day earlier in the week online.

Stores such as Kohl's, Old Navy and Toys R Us are already offering discounts on their websites, and outlets like Walmart and JC Penney will roll out their best deals online just after midnight on Thursday.

As for when you know you're getting a good deal? “Consumers should keep the number 37 in mind this year — that’s the average discount offered across retailers,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst for personal finance website WalletHub, told The Washington Post. “Anything less, and they might not be getting a true Black Friday deal.”

2. Get the hot toys while you can: One of the most famous Black Friday debacles of all time occurred when the Tickle Me Elmo whipped up a shopping frenzy, and toys continue to be hot sellers on Black Friday to this day.

Because the season's hottest toys can be hard to get your hands on in general, analysts say you shouldn't be as concerned about the deal you get on them as much as whether you can get one at all.

“There’s really no pattern when it comes to toy discounts,” Trae Bodge, a shopping analyst told The Washington Post. “My advice is, if you see a discount on something that’s on your list: Get it, because it might sell out.”

3. Check for discounts on electronics: Electronic devices are one thing you can count on having steep discounts this Black Friday.

While televisions are always a huge seller, this year shoppers may be able to get their hands on the new iPhone for a little cheaper using some gift card work arounds.

Walmart is offering shoppers a $300 gift card if they buy the $999 iPhone X, as long as they sign a contract with AT&T or Verizon. Target will give shoppers a $250 gift card if they buy an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus, and Best Buy is offering $200 gift cards for the same models.

4. Stock up on fall clothing: While it's not hard to find good deals on clothing year-round, Black Friday will likely offer shoppers a chance to get new apparel at a steal due to retailers' attempts to shore up holiday sales this year.

About a third of Black Friday deals this year are in apparel or accessories, according to an analysis by the personal finance site WalletHub. Clothing and accessories will be marked down 48 percent on average, while jewelry will be discounted an average of 59 percent.

“Black Friday is a great time to stock up on fall clothing,” Bodge told The Washington Post.

5. Keep an eye out for small kitchen appliances: It may not be as much fun to give the practical gift of a toaster this holiday season, but analysts say to pass up the Black Friday deals on small kitchen appliances is a mistake.

“Anything that sits on the counter, you’ll see good deals on,” Bodge said. “Toasters, slow cookers and food processors have become a popular category, especially at department stores.”

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Walmart is offering blenders and deep fryers marked down to $9.88 this year, while JC Penney and Macy’s are selling rice cookers, griddles and waffle makers for $7.99.

“They are fun, yet practical gifts,” Bodge continued. “And the prices have gotten so low.”