Thanksgiving might as well be Groundhog Day, as far as I’m concerned. I wake up, stomach full, the morning after Turkey Day and am struck with the realization that I’m going to have to figure out new and improved ways to buy gifts for my family members, who, for the most part, are impossible to buy gifts for and hate everything I buy them. On one side of the coin, that’s because my family’s just getting older, and they don’t really want to get new stuff anymore, because it takes up room in their already stuff-heavy house. On the other? I procrastinate every year.
If you just felt a twinge of guilt slip into your soul after reading the above paragraph, it’s OK; you’re not alone. More than a million people across the Capital Region will be dealing with the same gift-buying dilemma. And with inclement weather starting to rear its ugly head in the area, many will turn online for Cyber Monday—or just strike out completely.
Luckily, we’re a little more than a week away from Black Friday, and WalletHub, a website that offers free advice on subjects such as credit scores, loans and banking, has released its annual Best Stores for Black Friday report. The online hub surveyed 7000 deals from 35 of America’s biggest big-box retailers, based on pre-Black Friday advertising scans, and calculated average discounts for the lot of them. These were then compiled in order of the steepest discounts and further broken down into consumer categories, such as jewelry, toys, appliances, furniture, video games and consumer electronics. (Basically, everything you’d tackle the person in front of you in line at Walmart for when they finally open the doors the Friday after Thanksgiving.)
So which stores can you count on for the biggest discounts this Black Friday—and how far outside of Saratoga Springs (if at all) do you need to travel to get those discounts? I’ve created a list of all the price-slashing-est stores and their Capital Region locations for your convenience below (the percentages equal the average discount per store; those names that are crossed off don’t have a local or regional outlet).
1. Belk (68.91%)
2. JCPenney (65.13%) – For Saratogians, your closest JCPenney is at the Wilton Mall. If you don’t get in line quick enough on Black Friday morning, there’s always the Aviation Mall in Queensbury or the JCPenney location in Clifton Park Center. Good luck.
3. Stage (62.08%) – Sorry, Saratogians; you have to hoof it to Hoosick Street in Troy or Columbia Turnpike in Rensselaer to visit a Peebles department store near you (Stage is its parent company). The next closest location? Massachusetts.
4. Kohl’s (60.76%) – You’re in luck. Kohl’s has an insane number of outlets nearby you. There’s one at 79 Weibel Avenue in Saratoga—and locations in Clifton Park, Amsterdam and Colonie. (You could also drive 3.5 hours to Horseheads, NY, but my guess is that might be a turnoff for you Saratogians…in name alone!)
5. New York & Company (54.52%) – Albany, ho! You have two options for your Black Friday stakeout: Colonie Center and Crossgates Mall. Easy peasy.
6. Payless ShoeSource (50.34%) – Shoe-aholic, are you? Saratogians can visit Payless at the nearby Wilton Mall, as well as the Aviation Mall in Queensbury and Clifton Park Center, too. Hit this one after JCPenney at any of those locations.
7. Dick’s Sporting Goods (49.94%) – Dick’s has a solid showing in the Capital Region. There are locations at the Wilton Mall in Saratoga, Aviation Mall in Queensbury, Latham Farms in—you guessed it!—Latham and Crossgates Mall in Albany. And I know at least somebody in your holiday rolodex needs some sweatpants, sweat-wicking shirts or sneakers. So don’t mope when you’re gift-less on Xmas Eve—or for any of the eight nights of Hanukkah.
8. Macy’s (48.74%) – While there’s a Macy’s at both Crossgates and Colonie Center, let me float another idea by you altogether: Take the train down to New York City and do it the old-fashioned way, at the OG Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street in Manhattan. So what if the crowds will be insane and that Uber driver just flipped you the bird? There’s sure to be a miracle at 34th street to be had somewhere in that store.
9. Fred Meyer (45.30%) – Go see your buddy Fred at Crossgates. He’ll hook you up.
10. Shopko (45.23%)
If you were taking out your calculator, re-holster it, please. I’ve already done all the work for you. The overall average discount for Black Friday 2018, based on these above numbers (and more that are listed in the report – see above), turns out to be 37 percent. Not too shabby. WalletHub does note, however, that if discounts are lower than 37 percent, they should be avoided at all costs. Why? To paraphrase everybody’s favorite Star Wars bit-part character, Admiral Ackbar, “They might be a trap!” And for those of you wondering about the most discounted consumer category, that would be “apparel and accessories” (23.28 percent of the share of items are discounted). The least discounted category? “Books, movies and music,” which has a paltry 0.82 percent of offers that are discounted.
Some words of friendly advice: Don’t freak out. Freaking out will just lead to poor decisions and crappy gifts for all. (I should know.) You do have some options, though. You can suck it up and do the Black Friday waltz. You can hit up Small Business Saturday the day after, which supports a worthy cause: local businesses getting their feet under them in the Capital Region. Or you can just wait it out until Cyber Monday (November 26). But when Amazon crashes and you can’t pick up that discounted book or sweater for your significant other, know this: There’s no shame in buying him/her/everyone in your family a pair of socks.