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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Although Black Friday is a week away, many bargain shoppers already know what stores open early and what items are deeply discounted. From everything like bargain basement prices for HDTVs, smart phones and tablets to unheard-of prices for designer clothing and that must-have toy for the holidays, legions of shoppers are expected to descend upon America’s vast network of retail stores for the biggest shopping day of the year. This year, Black Friday sales are more popular than ever, with several retailers vowing to open their doors at 8 p.m. when the majority of American families are still enjoying Thanksgiving festivities. But experienced Black Friday shoppers, who demand nothing but the best and cheapest discounts, will tolerate the oftentimes chaotic rush at major retailers like Walmart, Target and Sears on Thanksgiving night or at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday. While many other consumers will simply avoid holiday crowds at shopping malls or even wait until Cyber Monday, retail stores across the nation will be buzzing with activity on the day after Thanksgiving. The following are five of the best American cities for Black Friday deals.
Texas has several choices across the state for discount shopping, but its largest city might have the best selection. For starters, there’s the massive Galleria, the largest shopping mall in a state where everything is supposedly bigger. Located in the Uptown District, the Galleria annually draws thousands of shoppers to pick out the best Black Friday deals from stores like Best Buy, Macy’s and Radio Shack. There’s also the Houston Premium Outlets, with 145 stores, including a Disney Store, Gap Outlet and Nike Outlet Store. Despite all of these outstanding choices for bargain shopping, the best deals are likely to be found at the numerous discount retailers, with 20 Walmarts, 17 Target stores and 10 Best Buy stores in the Greater Houston area.
Las Vegas, NV
Better known as the Gambling Capital of the World, Las Vegas is also a prime destination for bargain shoppers, particularly on Black Friday. Almost every shopping mall in the city opens on Black Friday at midnight, along with the two immensely popular Las Vegas Premium Shopping Outlets. There are also 20 Walmart stores, 12 Target stores, 10 Toys R Us stores and nine Best Buy stores, all expected to be open Thanksgiving evening at 8 p.m., in addition to 20 Ross stores, and six Marshalls and six TJ Maxx opening later that morning. Lastly, shoppers shouldn’t forget mega-casino shopping centers such as the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and Via Bellagio, all expected to be packed with shoppers looking for discount items on Black Friday.
Los Angeles, CA
It’s a good bet that there won’t be any Black Friday deals along LA’s famed Rodeo Drive, but there will be plenty of bargains available throughout the country’s second largest city. Lively shopping centers like The Grove, Beverly Center, Third Street Promenade and the Highland Center and trendy neighborhoods such as Melrose Avenue, Universal CityWalk and the Sunset Strip will all be filled with bargain shoppers looking for the that perfect holiday gift or steeply discounted clothing and gadgets. Other popular LA shopping centers are the Sherman Oaks Galleria, Glendale Galleria, Fashion Island in Newport Beach and the Del Amo Shopping Center in Torrance, once the country’s largest shopping mall. Like with any major American metropolitan area, Los Angeles also has its share of retail stores specializing in Black Friday sales, with over 25 Best Buys, 20 Walmarts and an even larger number of Target stores.
Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN
The gigantic Mall of America may have relinquished its status as the country’s largest shopping mall to Pennsylvania’s King of Prussia Mall, but the mall not far from Minneapolis has 522 retail stores, more than 100 more than its closest American competitor. With an estimated 40 million visitors annually, the Mall of America will be the place to be on Black Friday for most bargain shoppers. Last year, many mall retailers opened at midnight, including Best Buy, Gap, Macy’s, Nike and Sears, prompting thousands of shoppers to wait for doors to open. Even Apple Stores might have another rare Black Friday sale as in recent years. For those who simply wish to stay away from the expected colossal crowds at the Mall of America, the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area also has its fair share of retail discount stores, with 20 Walmart stores and several Target stores, which happens to be headquartered in Minneapolis.
The Theme Park Capital of the World also has a tremendous range of shopping deals for Black Friday. Although there are plenty of big box discount retailers like Walmart and Target, Orlando has two huge Premium Outlets and a number of shopping malls, such as the Florida Mall, one of the country’s largest single-story malls. Many of the city’s most popular shopping centers are concentrated along International Drive, including Pointe Orlando, Walmart Supercenter, International Drive Value Center and Festival Bay Mall. The I-Ride Trolley will be a very popular mode of public transportation on Black Friday, as its Red Line travels nine miles along International Drive, from the International Drive Premium Outlets to the north and Vineland Avenue Premium Outlets to the south with 78 trolley stops along the way and trolleys arriving every 20 minutes. While there won’t be bargain deals at Orlando’s theme parks, like Universal Studios Orlando and the world’s largest, Walt Disney World, park employees are expected to be very busy at the cash registers on Black Friday.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.