The Black Friday 2010 Dilemma: Shop Now or Forever Pay More?

By Laura Heller, dealnews writer

If you're burnt out on Black Friday before it even begins — or just plain hate the thought of braving the crowds — it's tempting to wait until Cyber Monday or later in the holiday shopping season to snag some deals. Rest assured, retailers are playing the discount game until New Year's, but does it pay shop in stores on Black Friday or just buy online?

See our latest video coverage of Black Friday fun:

For many, shopping Black Friday is a tradition. Camping out in a parking lot, or arriving well before dawn with family members or friends in tow is part of the package. Nothing can dissuade you from your Black Friday fun.

For the rest of us, it comes down to the best deals, mostly revolving around doorbusters available early in the morning in limited quantity. Many retailers are offering the same deals both online and in-store deals, but if you see an advertised doorbuster that really gets you going, you'd better get going to the store.

The absolute best stuff for sale on Black Friday are those limited quantity doorbusters, and when retailers say "limited quantity," they really mean it. Some stores get as few as four such items per store to give out, so it's imperative you be among the very first in line to score the item. And with very few exceptions, most notably Macy's, these are only available online.

After that, it doesn't really matter much if you're online or present in the store.

According to Greg Ahearn, senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce at Toys 'R' Us, the toy retailer begins its Black Friday sale at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night, and continues straight through Friday for the two day sale, regular Sunday deals kick in for the last day of the weekend leads into the Toys 'R' Us two-day sale, which then leads into Cyber Monday.

It's a lot to keep track of, but the bottom line is this, if you're shopping Toys 'R' Us, or another large retailer this weekend, you'll find nearly all the deals in stores available online. Waiting for Cyber Monday is a thing of the past.

In fact, Cyber Monday as a shopping event refers to the days when consumers would return to work after the long weekend and start shopping from their computers, because work was where they had access to computers. Some businesses even went so far as to designate time during the day for authorized online shopping, or set up computer terminals for those without.

But it's a different world today and a majority of people have some kind of Internet access either at home or on their person, in the form of a smart phone. We can shop practically anywhere all the time, and this is reflected in a falling off of interest in Cyber Monday.

If shopping online is your preference look for free shipping offers from the likes of, Walmart, Target (for orders over a certain amount), Office Depot, and others/

At Toys 'R' Us, Cyber Monday starts at 12:01 a.m., making it easy to access limited quantity items before anyone else is at their desks, although none seem as compelling as the Black Friday event. For example, Cyber Monday shoppers will get a 120 count box of Crayons with a $25 Crayola purchase. Black Friday shoppers get a similar box plus a coloring book for free with every purchase, in stores and online.

Bottom line: Every day is Cyber Monday this weekend and there's really no reason to wait to shop online, and unless doorbusters are your thing, stay in and enjoy the comforts of home.

Laura Heller is a freelance writer based in Chicago who specializes in mass market retail trends and consumer electronics industries. You can follow her on Twitter @lfheller. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.

For more great Black Friday coverage:

Photo credit: Toys 'R' Us via Flickr

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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