Consumer Reports’ top 5 Black Friday shopping tips

For some, it’s like gearing up for the Super Bowl.

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Friday marks the biggest shopping day of the year – where many hopefuls set out to score the best deal of the year.

And whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, navigating through all the promotions and discounts requires determination if you really want to achieve shopping victories, experts at Consumer Reports warn.

“Gone are the days when Black Friday simply meant checking the Sunday circulars to see which local retailers had the best deals,” Consumer Reports noted in its shopping tips for 2018.

The product review company said the “holiday” has really morphed into a whole month of deals and savings and “only rookies head out on Black Friday unprepared.”

Here are Consumer Reports’ top 5 shopping tips for winning on Black Friday.

1. Start early.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Start planning and tracking deals weeks before Black Friday. The same goes for Cyber Monday, which now stretches into a week of online specials.

2. Do your homework.

“Only rookies head out on Black Friday unprepared.”

To get ready, the group suggests studying as many ads as possible – in both print and online – the weekend before Thanksgiving. There are also a dozen Black Friday websites now that can help guide you. Consumers Reports says it regularly checks these sites: bfads.netbestblackfriday.comdealnews.comtheblackfriday.com and blackfriday.gottadeal.com.

3. Use price and coupon tools.

Doing a lot of research doesn’t mean you have to go retailer-by-retailer to compare prices. CR suggests to try Google Shopping and services like NexTagPriceGrabber, Pricewatch, and Shopzilla. Also, check out in store apps such as  BuyVia, Flipp, ShopKick, ShopSavvy, and Shopular so you scan bar codes or QR codes to compare prices, get discounts, and score coupons.

4. Use loyalty programs.

Most stores have loyalty programs that offer additional sales and promotions to their members first – take advantage of them. Also, sign up for Black Friday shopping alerts to get the early word on deals.

5. Get social.

Follow your favorite stores online through their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Retailers will often reward their followers with special deals.