What time on Black Friday?

By Mir
November 22, 2010

The very pretty Randi asks:

Genius saving-money guru lady, I have a question or two for you. First, I plan on spending Black Friday in my pajamas – but what time in the morning should I get up? If I remember correctly, some sites have deals REALLY early in the morning. Do you have any advice as to what time would be a good time to start surfing for deals? And secondly, do you believe that Black Friday will be better, or that Cyber Monday will be better?

This is one of the things I talked about in my Black Friday presentation at Save Up (that post now contains video of the presentation), but I’m happy to talk about it again, because this is important stuff.

The short answer: It depends.
The long answer: It depends on what you’re shopping for, and how badly you want something specific. Read on!

As you can already see just from the deals posted today, Black Friday is no longer the unique one-day-only savingspalooza it used to be. The deals are already starting, this year, and they’ll continue on this week through Friday and even beyond. That said, there will be some deals you may want to get up early to snag. So how do you know which ones are worth risking precious shut-eye for?

My advice in last week’s presentation was to pay attention to which time zone stores are headquartered in. Amazon is in Seattle; typically, they don’t start lightning deals until 6:00 a.m. Pacific, which gives us East Coast types plenty of time to sleep in. However, with the advent of their Black Friday Deals Week, today, they started the lightning deals at 4:00 a.m. Pacific (7:00 Eastern). I’m thinking that timing will hold for Black Friday, too.

Stores like Kohls and Target have traditionally put up their Black Friday deals in the wee hours; both stores are headquartered in the midwest, and have often put up the big deals just after midnight their time, so 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning Eastern. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never bothered getting up that early to snag a deal (yeesh, even I have my limits), though I do admit those two stores are often the first ones I head to on big sale days because I know they’re up early. This year, however, the New York Times reports that Kohls and “other stores” plan to release their big deals on Thanksgiving (talk about early!), so there’s the potential to finish your Black Friday shopping before the day even begins. Heh.

Now, as to Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I think Cyber Monday has become fairly redundant now that online shopping is so ubiquitous and the Black Friday deals start a whole week before the big day. Cyber Monday for me is usually kind of a letdown. However, Cyber Monday remains a pretty good day to get big ticket items like expensive electronics, because what you’ll see on Black Friday is deep discounts on cheaper brands, while Cyber Monday will often have deep discounts on more expensive brands, for those who passed over the Black Friday deals. At least, that’s how it’s played out in the past.

So if you’re looking for a big-ticket item, you may do better on Cyber Monday. If you’re buying clothing/small items/toys, Black Friday will likely be a great shopping day for you—assuming this previous week’s deals don’t get you everything you need—and what time you get up should depend on whether or not you have time to get online the day before, and how badly you need your beauty sleep.

For whatever it’s worth, I usually start Black Friday around 5:00 a.m. Eastern. If I get up any earlier than that I’m absolutely useless.

I’m not sure that helps, Randi, but that’s where I stand.


  1. Yes it does! Thank you so much pretty Mir! And since my husband actually got his deer this year, he may wind up staying home this weekend, which means that I can get up at 5, spend a few hours shopping, and then go back to bed! Score!

  2. I’ve never done Black Friday or Cyber Monday for anything. It just hasn’t mattered for the things that were on our gift lists. This year, however, we are determined to get a Nintendo DS for our 6 year old, and it has to be the best available price.

    All of that is just to explain my noob status. Here’s the actual question: do the deals advertised in the papers also appear online?

  3. Rachel: It used to be that there wasn’t much crossover between online and in-store, but nowadays almost everything advertised for in-store can be gotten online. I think there’s going to be a lot of DS deals (Amazon just had a lightning deal today, already) online, so don’t worry. 🙂

  4. sigh. all this holiday shopping is making my head spin! I find myself each and every year in a tizzy – do I rush out of the house for a few good deals? Sounds like this year I should just stay home and get my deals online. What is the strategy – I want to keep my shopping budget down and now that most of my kids are out of the 5 and under range (when it was sooo easy to find them gifts they loved and super inexpensive -yippee! I still have ONE of those so he’ll be easy to shop for) I want to spend my dollars on things they really will love but are reasonable (uggs, northface, ipod touch not happening kiddos!).yet I find myself like a moth to light on all these deals.

    advice on how to keep my head during all of this? I hate to not look for a deal yet I find it all very…stressful and wonder if its truly worth the hype?

  5. S: Deep breaths! 🙂 I think the key—particularly if you don’t enjoy shopping—is to have a goal in mind for each kid. Maybe if you don’t know an exact item you want to find, a class of items, at least. (E.g., this one definitely wants a new action video games; that one wants a really cool outfit; whatever.) And I’ll say it again: You can get some great deals on Black Friday, but it is not the be-all and end-all of shopping. No need to shop at all on Black Friday if it’s just going to stress you out. There are going to be great deals all this week, and probably next week, too. Please don’t panic!

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