What can we get the best deals on?
Brent Shelton: Both Best Buy and Wal-Mart have lowered prices on iPads and iPhones, which are some of the hottest deals of the season. "They are lowering prices on the new iPhone 5s for under $125, iPhone 5c for $27 and iPads at or below Black Friday prices. Both offer additional savings via cash back, too."
Rob Gough: "Toys and clothes typically go down after Cyber Monday leading up to Christmas. It's harder to gauge interest in these specific items, so retailers typically overbuy for inventory and then need to discount them as it gets closer to Christmas in order to make sales figures and to get rid of inventory."
SheKnows: Unless it's coveted, don't just buy the first thing you see. Do your homework on multiple websites and check deal sites on your phone before buying in-store. Note: When we say "coveted," think Cabbage Patch dolls circa 1983, during which time this writer at age 8-ish was shoved by a full-grown woman for reaching for the same doll.
Where can we find the best deals?
BS: "The best deals are going to be storewide discounts that can combine with free shipping offers, which will dominate now that we're into the last week to get low-cost delivery in time for Christmas."
RG: "Macy's and Bloomingdale's are very promotional right now and will continue to be leading up to Christmas. Bloomingdale's even has free shipping up until the 21st, which they never offer. Express is offering 40 percent off on everything. DefinitiveDeals.com has a Body Shop coupon for 50 percent off, which is a tremendous deal."
SK: Check Amazon's Lightning Deals by clicking "Today's Deals" in the navigation across the top.
What if I'm looking for a specific gift?
BS: "I would recommend start[ing] with a deal site like FatWallet.com to compare not only price, but additional savings from cash back, which is increased by hundreds of stores in Dec.... Shoppers have an opportunity to double cash back and find other exclusive coupons [and] mail-in rebates, and they can weigh the current price options against storewide discounts, sometimes being able to combine (or stack) these options for even bigger savings."
RG: "Always open at least two browser windows while comparing deals. If you find deals for the same product at different stores, do the math to figure out if the dollar off, percentage off or free shipping saves you the most money."
SK: If you find an item you need, don't just buy it. Check CouponChad.com, DefinitiveDeals.com and FatWallet.com or the like to see if there's a better deal through them. Bookmark their websites on your phone so you can check while you're out, and always check all three in addition to other retailers.
If you do find a better deal somewhere else, ask a store manager if you can have the same deal if you buy it from them. Many stores already have such policies, and others are glad to give the discount to keep your business.
Are sales always great deals? How do you know?
BS: "Many of the Black Friday deal sites still have all the Black Friday deals and ads live to review and check on what the prices were. FatWallet's Black Friday Deal Finder [app] actually still has live links to those deals, making it easy to check the current price in a single click for a fast comparison, or make a quick purchase."
RG: "The sales this time of year are not always the best time to buy every product. That being said, there are still some great deals out there. To really get the best prices on the products you want, research the best time to buy that specific product during the year."
For example, brand-name electronics often go on sale in Jan. (after the large Vegas electronics show, CES), and furniture goes down when they release their new product lines at the beginning of the year, while fitness gear goes up in price around Christmas and in Jan. because of New Year's resolutions.
SK: When it came to shopping online, Shelton and Gough both gave us the same sage advice. Repeat after us: Expect free shipping.
More Black Friday deals