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Best buys, worst buys on Black Friday 2011

Black Friday 2011 guide: You'll find great deals on second-tier electronics, apparel, and more, but wait a week for the best buys on all but the most popular toys. Avoid jewelry on Black Friday 2011.

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Apparel

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Deals on designer brands all but disappear on Black Friday, and you’ll notice that high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue get pretty quiet. However, Macy’s has Black Friday deals on designer labels, including 50 percent off  Calvin Klein and DKNY jeans, as well as 50 percent  off a slew of winter boots from Marc Ecko, Nine West, and Steve Madden. If you aren’t concerned with labels, JCPenneySears, and Kohl's are all boasting deep discounts on clothing. 

If you’re loyal to a specific brand, like Gap or Aeropostale, the best deals will be found online, on Cyber Monday. “Niche clothing brands will be stronger then,” says de Grandpre. Worried about buying clothes online? De Grandpre suggests going into the stores to try on items a few days early, then buying online later. “It will be difficult to get into the fitting rooms on Black Friday anyway,” he says.

Home Appliances

Black Friday is an excellent time to buy small kitchen appliances and other kitchenware, but, in keeping with theme of the holiday, it probably won’t be of the best quality. “It’s a good time to buy a cheap blender for a college student,” de Grandpre says.  

Sears, for one, has lots of bargains on appliances that would make for fun gifts, including a $15 quesedilla maker and complete Magic Bullet blender set for $35. For the big appliances, head over to Lowe’s, where Black Friday prices on washer/dryer sets, stoves, power tools, and refrigerators are already available. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot are offering free delivery on major appliances, as well as haul-away of the old ones. One caveat: “Early” Black Friday pricing means that the item you want may be out of stock by Black Friday.

 

Jewelry

The holidays are among the worst times to buy jewelry, right up there with Valentines Day and Mothers Day. If you must buy it, however, the best deals will be on cheap items: low-carat diamonds, cubic zirconium, and costume jewelry. Sears has some of the deepest discounts, including 60 percent off select diamond jewelry.

Besides, do you want to live with the guilt of buying your beloved discounted diamonds in the first place?

 

Toys

It’s quite the Christmas spending category, and Toys “R” Us certainly put toys on the radar by clocking in with the earliest Black Friday opening time (9 p.m.  on Thanksgiving night). But according to de Grandpre, the deepest markdowns on toys won’t be found until a few weeks after Black Friday, and the ideal shopping window is Dec. 7-20. “Stores like Target and Walmart will expand their toy section by several aisles at the beginning of the season, and then they will need to get rid of it all,” he says. But don’t wait too long: “A few days before Christmas, the prices will go back up, because those last-minute shoppers won’t have any other options,” de Grandpre says.

The exception is toys that are in particularly high demand, like a Leapfrog LeapPad Learning Tablet. It’s best to get those toys whenever they come in stock, or risk paying above retail on eBay or Amazon Marketplace. “For those items, the list price is the deal price,” de Grandpre says.

 

Travel

Let’s face it: Black Friday can be stressful, and afterwards, who wouldn’t want to skip town? Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t just for material gifts: The travel booking site Travelocity is offering a wide array of discounted airfares, hotels, and vacation packages that can be booked on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Need a suitcase? JCPenney is offering 50-60 percent off on several pieces of luggage during Black Friday, and Kohl’s has luggage sets for 65 percent off.

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