Gearing Up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals? The Shopping Strategies You Need to Know

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You’ve been prepping for weeks now. You’re anxious about waking up in time, and feeling stressed about everything going as smoothly as planned. We're not talking about preparing your Thanksgiving meal, but plans for the biggest shopping holidays of the season: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In case you haven’t heard, retailers like Target, Sears and Walmart are offering discounts as early as this Friday—a full week before Black Friday kicks off.

This news comes as no surprise to Erica Bell and Katie Finnegan, the co-founders of Hukkster, a shopping site (and just re-launched app) that tracks the pieces you love and alerts you to when they go on sale. Mining the data Hukkster gathered during the 2012 shopping season, the women uncovered a few key shopping strategies for Black Friday and Cyber Monday enthusiasts—and heck, even just good-to-know info even if you're not planning on waking up from your turkey-induced slumber at 4 a.m. next Friday.

See their tips, and download Hukkster's app, a must-have for any holiday shopper. "When a discount is all-encompassing, you might not realize that that pair of J. Brand jeans you've been eying are on sale," says Finnegan. "Because we're so style specific, we can alert you that the sale is relevant to you."

Discounts start appearing as early as the week before Thanksgiving. During the same time last year, the Hukkster team saw an average discount of 35–37 percent off across men's and women's apparel, as well as accessories. "This is the best week to buy for those shoppers who want a great deal but aren’t willing to wait and risk missing out," Bell says, who notes that inventory on trendier items tend to sell out quickly. "If it’s something you need to have, you really want to pull the trigger when all those discounts hit for the first time."

Consider how during that time last year, Hukkster uncovered such discounts as (pictured, clockwise from top left) 35 percent off a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, 40 percent off the Michael Kors "Large Layton" Chronograph watch, and and 33 percent off UGG's women's Lattice Cardy boots.

Surprise! The largest discounts happen the week following Cyber Monday. Price cuts across women's and men's apparel, accessories, shoes, home goods, and electronics went as deep as 40-60 percent off that week, Hukkster data found. For Bell, the message is clear: "Avoid the crowds," she says. "The best deals of the season are not just reserved for Black Friday or Cyber Monday anymore." Maybe so, but just remember that no will reserve that pair of silk pants in a size 6 your sister so desperately wants. When buying before the shopping holidays, you might be spending an extra 2 or 3 percent, but "sizes are going to go really fast," Finnegan says.

The week leading up to Christmas is the worst time to buy. During that time last year, Hukkster data showed an average discount of 30 percent, versus 40 percent off the week of Thanksgiving. And last-minute shoppers take note: "The absolute last day to buy for Christmas is the 18th or 20th, just to not have to pay for expedited shipping," Finnegan says.

The takeaway. If you're worried about a specific item selling out, it's best to jump on it early. But if getting a deep discount is your M.O., hold out until after Cyber Monday, or even until after Christmas. "We like to say that December 26 should be the 'Gift Yourself' holiday, because the discounts just get deeper and deeper," Finnegan says. "So if you just need more stuff in your closet, you can continue to wait."

MORE: • See Bell and Finnegan's Style Essentials Meet More of Our Modern InnovatorsSee Our Favorite Apps That Make Shopping Better, Faster, and Easier

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