Discuss as:

Black Friday tips: How to snag door-buster deals

At least half of all Americans have started their holiday shopping already. The big retailers have taken notice, with some opening their doors Thursday night to kick off Black Friday deals. NBC's Janet Shamlian reports.

Is Black Friday the best day to shop for bargains? It is for some items, but not everything. If you do your homework, you can save a bundle. 

LIVE CHAT: Get Black Friday tips from a pro! Chat with Herb Weisbaum today at 12:30 p.m. ET

“Some of the deals are shockingly good,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, who’s been analyzing Black Friday deals since 2004. 

A few examples of some unbeatable Black Friday savings: 

  • A Vizio 60” LED Smart TV on sale at Wal-Mart for $688, about $300 less than you can buy it anywhere else.
  • The top-rated Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone is less than a dollar ($0.96) at Sam’s Club, $200 off the regular price. 
  • A 13-piece hard anodized cookware set at JC Penney for $100, that’s half price. 

But Dworsky cautions that only a few of the items advertised in the Black Friday circulars are what would be considered true door busters. And in many cases, those are limited to just a few per store. 

“Sears, for example, now has hundreds of door busters. Believe me, they’re not all great deals,” Dworsky told me. “But if you’re careful and you compare prices ahead of time, you’ll be able to recognize which are the bona fide door busters where you’re saving 50 percent.” 

Who has the best deals? Jon Vincent at BlackFriday.com picks Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Best Buy. He calls the Black Friday ads for Target a disappointment. Dworsky agrees. 

“In the past, Target has been very good,” he said. “This year Target is not so good, except for an Xbox 360 with Kinect for $199.” 

How to snag the deals you want 
You need a plan to be a successful Black Friday shopper. Consumer World put together a list of tips to bag a bargain on Black Friday.

Here’s how to start:

What about something you want that’s not on sale Black Friday? 

“We recommend waiting until Cyber Monday because sometimes there will be a coupon you can use online,” said Vincent at BlackFriday.com. “If not, just check the weekly circulars and see if the item is put on sale before Christmas.”

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or visit The ConsumerMan website.

From Florida to California, Black Friday fever has taken hold earlier than ever as dedicated shoppers camp out in front of major retailers, several of which are expected to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day. NBC's Diana Alvear reports.