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Best Things to Buy on Black Friday

Some of the deals on November 25 are too good to pass up – even if you’re only shopping for yourself.

Millions of holiday shoppers will venture out to stores or scour the Internet over the Black Friday holiday weekend, which includes Thanksgiving Day (November 24), Black Friday (November 25) and -- unofficially -- Cyber Monday (November 28), in search of can't-miss deals on everything from electronics to toys to home appliances.

While many retailers will attempt to lure early birds to stores by offering doorbuster deals on Thanksgiving Day, most shoppers aren’t likely to buy anything until Black Friday. In fact, in 2015 the majority of shoppers didn’t make purchases in-store or online until the day after Thanksgiving, according to a holiday shopping survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. For anyone with a long list of people to give gifts to, strategizing on what to buy and when to buy it is important -- especially for those on a tight budget.

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We talked with several shopping experts to help identify which types of items to target on Black Friday. Here’s what we found:

Name-Brand Electronics

Holiday shoppers can find the best deals on name-brand electronics including HDTVs, laptops and Blu-ray disc players on Black Friday, says Kerry Sherin, a savings expert for Offers.com. While there will also be sales on many of the same items on Thanksgiving Day, consumers will likely see the deepest discounts on off-brand electronic products on November 24, Sherin adds, and this is where they need to be careful.

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Off-brand electronics often come with fewer features and reduced quality. Be sure to do some product research online and pay special attention to customer reviews and product ratings before visiting a store to make a purchase, she warns.

At Walmart, for example, a 50-inch Emerson brand HDTV will be on sale for just $225. A quick online search found that Emerson brand TVs received a rating of just 2 out of 5 stars on review site ConsumerAffairs.com. Many of the customer complaints cited faulty televisions and poor tech support. (Read more about a 50-inch Samsung 4K TV we like that Walmart is discounting on Black Friday.)

Large Appliances

If you've been putting off replacing your old stove or refrigerator due to cost, Black Friday is a good time to purchase a replacement, Sherin says. It’s important for shoppers to remember that the large appliances discounted on Thanksgiving Day are likely to be in extremely limited quantities. So unless you plan to be in line early on November 24 waiting for your local store to open, there’s a strong chance you’ll miss out on the doorbuster price (which is usually only good for a short window of time).

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Another reason why it's smart to purchase large appliances on Black Friday is because you'll have a full day to shop and compare prices, as well as see a desired product in person. These aren't the types of items you want to purchase online sight unseen, no matter how good the deal may be, Sherin notes. Chances are you'll end up paying the difference of any discount you receive in shipping, delivery and installation fees, she adds.

Tools

Home Depot and Lowe’s are closed on Thanksgiving Day. If you’ve got a DIY guru on your gift-giving list, your earliest chance at finding deep discounts in-store on items such as cordless drills, wrench sets and tool chests at these types of retailers is on Black Friday.

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Holiday shoppers can expect to find these items for as much as 50% off, says Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert for Coupons.com. In fact, Lowe's is already advertising huge deals on tools and related home improvement items as part of its Black Friday promotion. For example, a Waterloo rolling steel tool cabinet is on sale for $50 (marked down from $109). The next chance to see deals this good is June, when retailers heavily discount tools for Father’s Day.

Smartphones

You'll find doorbuster deals for smartphones on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. However, on Black Friday many big-box retailers will be offering additional incentives on smartphones to get shoppers back in-store. This includes throwing in a free gift card with purchase or a no-money-down option, says Courtney Jespersen, a shopping and retail expert for NerdWallet.com.

At Target, for example, shoppers with good credit can get Apple's iPhone 7 on Black Friday in-store only for no money down. "Keep in mind that most of these deals are subject to a credit check, may require an activation or upgrade fee and often require an installment billing plan," Jespersen adds.

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