Midday Fix: Holiday shopping tips from Benjamin Glaser

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Benjamin's Tips:

The most important thing shoppers can do to prepare for holiday shopping is research and budget. Start with how much money you can allot for holiday gifts (without dipping into important long-term savings), and then determine what items you want at what price points, and where they will be available at those prices. Then, have a back-up plan for each item, as the best deals will surely sell out quickly. When the day comes, stick to your list to resist impulse purchases.

Thanksgiving is actually the single best day of the year for deals, beating even Black Friday (which actually comes in third behind Cyber Monday now). So whatever you're shopping for, it's worth checking to see if Thanksgiving has a worthwhile deal. Electronics deals are particularly strong on Thanksgiving, with TVs, laptops, and tablets seeing many of their best deals of the year on that one day. We've already seen great electronics deals advertised from Walmart, Target, Dell, Best Buy, and others, and Amazon is usually our deal leader.

The deals really are that good on Black Friday, that doesn't mean you have to skip out on family time! Almost all of these amazing deals are now available online; very few doorbusters are in-store only anymore. So after your done with dinner, you can do a little online shopping, and compare prices at more retailers to boot.

Amazon has been our number one retailer for Black Friday deals for several years running. Last year, online tech retailer Newegg was number two. Rounding out the top five are Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, showing that retailers with brick-and-mortar locations are still a Black Friday force.

Pretty much everything is on sale on Black Friday, so regardless of what you are buying, it is worth it to check out deals. Especially at this point in the year, almost everything will be cheaper in just two weeks. Electronics are the biggest category on Black Friday, with TVs, laptops, and tablets often seeing their lowest prices of the year. Apparel, large home appliances, and smaller kitchen appliances are other major categories.

Most items see at least decent deals on Black Friday, though there are a few categories that see better deals later on in the winter. For example, gift cards are a popular purchase, and we've already seen some great deals advertised that include bundled gift cards. But throughout December, these items are even more deeply discounted and are available practically every day, making it the perfect time to grab them as stocking stuffers. Be on the lookout for $100 of iTunes credit for as little as $70.

Winter coats are another item that will see deeper clearance-level prices later on in winter (if you can wait that long for this purchase). Also, travel deals, like cruises and airfares, are another lackluster category on Black Friday.

After Cyber Monday week, holiday deals drop off. Great deals pop up throughout December, but are more spread out and less consistent. And though some deals can get better the closer you get to Christmas (like for toys), it also means inventories will get depleted and options will become limited. So after the Black Friday season, it might be best to wait until the new year to make certain purchase.

Clothing is one of the most heavily discounted items after the holidays, making up 45% of after-Christmas sales. These even includes luxury brands.

Fitness gear traditionally goes on sale in January to take advantage of all those New Years' resolutions. The same is true for gym memberships, which are always discounted in the new year.

After a booming season of deals on Black Friday, consumer electronics go more quiet in December. Also, the major industry expo the Consumer Electronics Show usually takes place in January, unveiling new products, which means discounts on older items.