(NEW YORK) — Despite all the hype and hustle, Black Friday really is the best bargain shopping day of the year, according to Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, and an avid bargain hunter himself.
Retailers have long considered the day after Thanksgiving the official launch of their critical holiday shopping period, so they go all out to get shoppers excited and lure them in.
But this year, there’s a twist, with stores sprinkling their so-called “door busters” across different time periods.
“Black Friday now starts on Thursday,” explained Dworsky. “If you don’t read the circulars carefully, you may show up at the store either hours early or hours late.”
For example, Walmart is offering some deals as early as 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Thursday. Sears will let people in at 8 p.m. Thursday and again at 4 a.m. Friday.
Dworsky is a guy who actually spends his time studying these things, so here are his top tips for a golden deal on Black Friday:
1. Read the Ads in Advance
Dworsky suggests previewing the Black Friday sale circulars now at bfads.net. You can search by category and see deals at all stores side by side at blackfriday.gottadeal.com.
2. Try for “Triple Plays”
To save even more, combine sale prices with coupons that give you a percentage-off or a set number of dollars off. And finally, look for items that also have a cash back rebate. You can often combine these offers because some are offered by the stores and others by the manufacturers.
3. Go Early
On Thanksgiving Day, many big chains will open early. Plot your route from one to another, and if you are hoping to score at more than one, dispatch different family members to different stores. Here are some of the early openings:
4. Go Even Earlier
Some stores may make their Black Friday deals available to “members” days early. For example, Dworsky says Sears is letting its reward club members buy some door busters starting on Sunday, Nov. 18. You may also be able to order some Black Friday sale items online on Thanksgiving Day or extra early Friday at JC Penney, Kohl’s and other department stores.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Shannon Gupta, CNN
Kathryn Vasel, CNN