Tips for how to own Black Friday

Thousands of shoppers across the country will take advantage of deals this week on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
Thousands of shoppers across the country will take advantage of deals this week on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Invision for Wal-Mart

It’s here folks: holiday shopping season. Once the oven cools, fire up those minivans and prepare to wade through a haze of tryptophan and gravy fumes on your way to your next bacchanal. But this time, it’s at Target or Wal-Mart. And no, that’s not cranberry sauce.

Cue Tchaikovsky’s “Russian Dance” or the airport song from “Home Alone.”

(Fades to Black Friday.)

Last year, more than 151 million people shopped online or in stores over the holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation — or about half the American population. While less are expected this year, part and parcel of that is the day’s protraction into a weekend into a month into a season into a shopping surfeit. A “palooza” suffix has never been more appropriate.

Here is a brief, highly inexpert guide on surviving the “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” of shopping weekends.

When does the fun begin?

For most of the big retailers, Thursday. Allocate enough time to trim the turkey and stow away leftovers. A grace period for digestion is advised.

Target on Colonnade Boulevard in State College will open at 6 p.m. and will remain so until 11 p.m. Friday. Keep in mind the Beaver Avenue store will be closed on Thanksgiving. Like many other big retailers, Target kicked off its deals well in advance. The “10 Days of Deals” began Saturday.

Wal-Mart, open 24 hours, is beginning “Cyber Week” deals on Friday a minute after midnight Eastern time. Its in-store deals begin at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

Best Buy opens at 5 p.m. Thursday. So does Macy’s. Kohl’s will open at 6 p.m. and remain so throughout Black Friday.

I’ve succumbed to stuffing-induced somnolence. Can I find better deals from my laptop?

Yes and no. Depending on what you’re looking for, most retailers offer the same deals online. Adobe Digital Insights is predicting this Cyber Monday will be the largest online shopping day in history.

Amazon, for instance, has a jungle of deals sans the feeling of actually being in a jungle. The internet retail giant has released deals every day in November as part of the run-up to Black Friday.

So the endgame is you miss out on doorbusters but you still make out well from the comfort of your couch.

What’s hot?

With teens, tech has taken over. Apple recently released a new iPhone and MacBook Pro, while Microsoft unveiled a new Surface desktop. Drones continue to gain popularity as their prices become more accessible.

For tykes, Disney’s empire, which includes Star Wars and the Marvel Universe, recently introduced “Doctor Strange” and is set to unveil “Rogue One” in December. “Trolls,” of the catchy Justin Timberlake ditty, has the attendant merchandise, and the popular “Pokemon” franchise recently released a new set of video games.

For the young at heart, virtual reality is real now. With headsets like the Oculus Rift, you can now play games, walk in a digital world and soon will be able to watch football. Microsoft is launching an Xbox One service where you can play games through an Oculus Rift headset and a Windows 10 PC.

For the old at heart, there are always socks.

Anything Saturday?

Yes. Small Business Saturday, founded in 2010 by American Express, will put the spotlight on locally owned businesses. According to an American Express survey, nearly 79 percent of consumers say they are willing to pay slightly more for an item purchased from a small, independently owned retailer. The company’s Consumer Insights Survey also found 84 percent thought the day induced them to shop more at smaller retailers or eat at a small, independently owned restaurant over the year.