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JCPenney tops the list of retailers with biggest Black Friday savings

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JCPenney is rated this year’s best retailer for Black Friday according to a study conducted by WalletHub. The average savings on sale items at JCPenney this Black Friday is 68 percent.

Costco was listed as having the lowest Black Friday discounts at an average of just 20 percent.

The study surveyed 8,000 Black Friday deals from 30 of the nation’s largest retailers. Results found that jewelry is the most heavily discounted item with an average markdown of 73 percent.

Computers and phones were the least discounted at just 31 percent. Toys, however, are the easiest items to find deals on. Toys represented 23 percent of all Black Friday offers while items in the “consumer packaged goods” category represented just 1.4 percent.

Surprisingly, Groupon may be a good place to start for holiday shopping. The web-based discount website that offers deals year-round ranked fourth on the list of retailers offering the best deals with average discounts of 63.7 percent. But the website tops the list in two key holiday shopping categories – apparel and accessories and consumer electronics.

Shoppers can save as much as 84.2 percent on apparel and accessory Groupon purchases and more than 63 percent on consumer electronics. Office Depot and Office Max have the best savings on computers and phones offering an average savings of just over 40 percent.

Wherever shoppers find themselves completing holiday shopping this year, experts recommend setting a budget to avoid over-spending. One of the easiest ways to do that is to set a budget and just use cash to make purchases. When the money’s gone, it’s gone.

However, David Bojanic, a professor of tourism at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Business, points out using credit cards can lead to unintended savings through various rewards programs. For consumers who can rely on a little will power, credit cards can be a good way to get a little back on heavy spending associated with the holiday season.

Bojanic recommends shoppers do some homework before heading out on Black Friday. Some Black Friday deals can be traps for consumers. Many stores advertise the “was” price along side the sale price to make the deal look too good to pass up. However, the original price stated may be inflated.

“The law states that the retailer must offer the product at the reference price for a certain percentage of time throughout the year to be allowed to advertise it, but the government can be slow to catch offenders, and retailers might only offer the product at that price for the minimal amount of time required by law,” Bojanic said.

He said that trick can be caught easily by comparing prices in multiple stores.

Another likely problem with Black Friday shopping is availability. Bojanic said consumers can call stores ahead to ask how many of a featured item will be available. If the number is low, that shopper may choose to shop elsewhere.

Though Black Friday is a time-honored holiday tradition for some shoppers, retailers have been rapidly extending the amount of time consumers can take advantage of deals.

This is a bonus for shoppers who may be able to wait until Saturday or even Sunday to get in their post-Thanksgiving retail fix. But it’s also a bonus for retailers who can appeal to a greater number of shoppers.

There’s also an opportunity for savings for online shoppers on what has come to be known as Cyber Monday. Asked whether individuals could find the best deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Bojanic said it largely depends on what a consumer is purchasing and their shopping preferences.

Electronics tend to be the most heavily discounted on Cyber Monday, but shoppers looking to buy clothes may prefer Black Friday so they can physically inspect their purchase.

Retail spending this holiday season is expected to reach $630.5 billion. That’s up 3.7 percent over last year.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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