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Thanksgiving vs. Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: what to buy each day

We gathered data from the past four years of Thanksgivings, Black Fridays, and Cyber Mondays to determine which day offered the best sales on any given product. 

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    Customers wrap up their holiday shopping during Walmart's Black Friday events in Bentonville, Ark.
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Black Friday is held up as the ultimate shopping day, but Thanksgiving actually offers more awesome deals. Of course, there are great sales to be found throughout the Black Friday season, with Cyber Monday deals adding their fair share of savings to the mix. However, if you're looking for a specific type of product, it's hard to know whether Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday will give you the best chance to score that bargain.

Because most shoppers will be looking for deals on these three days specifically, we gathered data from the past four years of Thanksgivings, Black Fridays, and Cyber Mondays to determine which day offered the best sales on any given product category. From TVs to toys to tablets, we've got the skinny on when you're most likely to find a killer price low on anything.

But before we get to the results, let's discuss the amorphous blob of time that Black Friday has become.

Black Friday is a Season

Around this time of year, DealNews often refers to the "Black Friday season." We've been tracking the expansion of Black Friday for years, and can say with some certainty that these sales will last for nearly two weeks. Thanksgiving deals can start as early as the Monday before, Black Friday sales almost universally start on Thanksgiving, and we'll begin seeing Cyber Monday sales on Saturday. In fact, Cyber Monday has become Cyber Week, with excellent offers still appearing as late as the Friday after Black Friday.

So as you're reading the guide below, keep in mind that we're discussing trends as opposed to hard and fast rules. The savvy shopper will keep an eye out for discounts throughout the Black Friday season — no matter what the calendar says.

That said, on to the findings!

Courtesy of DealNews

Ditch the Turkey, Get the Doorbuster

We can't stress this enough: If you can only shop on one day this year, go shopping on Thanksgiving. Of all the product categories listed above, half show a higher concentration of Editors' Choice deals on Turkey Day. This is especially true in the big-ticket electronics categories, where everything from TVs to iPads sees steep discounts. In fact, about 41% of all the deals we listed on Thanksgiving last year were hot enough to be marked Editors' Choice.

Of course, these Thanksgiving deals are really just early Black Friday deals. With many stores choosing to start Black Friday sales on Thursday, there's little wonder that this holiday has become a shopper's dream. If you'd rather linger over your pumpkin pie, rest assured that many of these sales will be available online. And many will be live on Black Friday — even if the doorbusters are gone.

So what's your Black Friday game plan? Will you concentrate your savings on a single day? Share your strategies in the comments below!

And if you're excited for Black Friday deals, consider subscribing to the DealNews Select Newsletterto get a daily recap of all our deals; you never know when a Black Friday price will be released! You can also download the DealNews app, check out the latest Black Friday ads, or read more buying advice.

This article first appeared in DealNews. 

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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