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While dealnews readers know that many of the greatest deals year-round can be found online, some dedicated shoppers may wonder if it's necessary to endure the in-store rush to get the best deals on Black Friday. But after shopping in-store last year, we discovered that Black Friday deals are not all that exclusive. So unless you really need to get out of the house pre-dawn, you might want to consider keeping those warm PJs on.
Since Black Friday sales are beginning earlier each year — on Thanksgiving itself, for some stores — we decided to step away from the computer and discern whether the deals were worth the hassle of shopping in-store rather than online. We visited both Walmart and Target shortly after they opened Thanksgiving night 2011, noted the prices on several of their Black Friday specials, and then comparison shopped for those items online.
Overall, we found that 70% of the in-store deals we checked were available online (currently, or earlier on Thanksgiving Day) for the same price or less. If you include items that would receive free shipping with a minimum order, that number jumps to 85%. (It should be noted that Target offered select deals online earlier in the day, like the popular Apple iPod touch bundle, but then removed them later with a note that just said "available in stores.")
While there were still low prices on some items that we could only find exclusively in-store, chances are high that you'll find a comparable deal online if you just decide to stay home and do a little research. Of course, it'll still require some work — and a little help from dealnews.Note that this feature has been updated since it was originally published last fall.