Since the sales began early this year — on Thanksgiving itself, for some stores — we decided to step away from the computer and discern whether the deals were worth the hassle of shopping in-store rather than online. We visited both Walmart and Target shortly after they opened last night, noted the prices on several of their Black Friday specials that were still for sale, and then searched for those items online.
Overall, we found that 70% of the in-store deals we checked were available online (currently, or earlier on Thanksgiving day) for the same price or less. If you include items that would receive free shipping with a minimum order, the number jumps to 85%. (It should be noted that Target offered select deals online earlier in the day, like the popular Apple iPod touch bundle, but then removed them later with a note that just said "available in stores.")
So is it worth going to stores on Black Friday? There are still prices that we could only find exclusively in-store, however the odds are in your favor that you'll find a comparable deal online if you just decide to stay home. Of course, it'll still require some work — and a little help from dealnews.