We’re all familiar with the images of Black Friday: Long lines outside stores, swarms of customers fighting over items on sale, long lines at the checkout counter.

And while much of that still occurs on the day following Thanksgiving, over the last few years eCommerce retailers have started getting in on the action, creating their own special shopping holiday. That is the infamous Cyber Monday, which this year falls on Dec. 2.

Whichever way you choose to shop for deals, there are tips to help you navigate the crowds and sales. Here are five tips each on navigating the sales and crowds for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

BLACK FRIDAY

1. Check out the Ads — The Thanksgiving Day News-Review is stuffed with ads, coupons, and circulars. This is a major source for local Black Friday savings; It will also help you maximize savings because many stores offer special discounts that are time-specific, such as early-bird sales and doorbusters.

2. Do Your Research — A bad product is a bad deal no matter how cheap it is, and being knowledgeable about the items you want to buy will help you avoid being suckered into buying something you’ll later regret.

3. Look for Early-Bird Discounts — Some stores open on Thanksgiving. They’ll often advertise doorbuster prices, and there are also midnight madness sales and early-bird specials. Check the list of stores for holiday hours so you don’t miss a good deal.

4. Plan Your Shopping — Know which stores have the biggest sales and when, then plan your shopping accordingly. Prioritize the must-shop stores to take advantage of the best deals.

5. Bring the Ads — Many stores offer a “lowest price” guarantee, but you might be required to produce proof of the product being advertised to get the discount.

If you want to avoid the crowds and still get good deals, Cyber Monday is for you. Sales on Cyber Monday last year totaled nearly $8 billon, a number that is expected to grow this year. The most important way to prepare for Cyber Monday is knowing where the best deals are. To do that you can visit several websites and forums which are dedicated to helping people find the best discounts and promotions ahead of time. Two such sites are Cyber Monday (www.cybermonday.com/) and Amazon’s Cyber Monday Portal (amzn.to/2CnQjoG).

Here are the five tips for owning Cyber Monday:

1. Sign up for store newsletters — Nobody likes to get inundated with emails, but if you’re careful and find only the stores you frequent, you could access a lot of great sales-related information.

2. Find the best deals before Monday — If you have a lot of shopping to do, spending hours searching through Google for the best deals doesn’t work. To find the best deals check websites ahead of Cyber Monday.

3. Collect coupons you can stack — Coupons continue to save money, especially on Cyber Monday deals. Some sites let you “stack” coupons, that is, use more than one coupon on a single offer.

4. Compare sites for deals — Many companies claim to offer the “best discount” on an item, but they’re rarely alone.

5. Check your credit card for companion discounts — Many credit cards offer special discounts if you shop through their online portal or meet some conditions. These discounts can be combined with coupon stacking to achieve big savings.

Finally, if Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t enough to satisfy your shopping itch, there is Small Business Saturday. As you might expect, that sales day is set for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Shoppers are encouraged to visit brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.

Let the shopping begin.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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