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Cutting through Black Friday hype: Where are the real deals?

You probably already know this: Black Friday is usually more hype than cold, hard bargains.

But for many people, it's still a can't-miss shopping event. Families and friends go year after year, whether for the fun of tradition or because they're trying to flee some family chaos over pumpkin pie. Whatever the reason, you'll be happy to know there are still good deals to be had. Look for the deepest discounts on jewelry, apparel and video games.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

Deal website WalletHub has crunched the numbers. It took a deep dive into Black Friday ads from 35 of the biggest national retailers and analyzed nearly 7,000 deals.

So how did its analysts decide what makes for a good bargain? It looked at regular product prices on shelves and compared them to their Black Friday sale prices to find out which ones had the biggest discounts. When calculating which stores offered the best deals, it gave more weight to retailers offering deals on higher-end items – say 40 percent off a TV rather than 40 percent off a sweater.

What they found can help steer you toward some smarter shopping this Black Friday.

If you're looking for gifts, you might want to consider clothing and accessories. That's where you'll find nearly a quarter of all deals, according to WalletHub's findings.

That could be because the markup can be steep and products can be difficult to comparison shop. But as a result, that category sees the most deals and some of the deepest average discounts (47 percent).

The two stores with the biggest apparel and accessories discounts this year are JC Penney (63 percent off) and New York & Co. (55 percent off), according to WalletHub. The other top retailers on the list don't have stores here: Michigan-based Meijer has an average of 64 percent off, North Carolina-based department store Belk has an average of 62 percent off and Texas-based Stage has an average of 60 percent off.

Though there might not be as many deals in some categories, such as jewelry and furniture, they might have some of the deepest discounts.

The average jewelry discount, for example, is 68 percent off, even though jewelry sales make up just 6.67 percent off all Black Friday deals. If you're shopping for jewelry, check Sears, which is averaging 79 percent off jewelry, as well as Kohl's (73 percent) and JC Penney (71 percent). They will have the biggest discounts in Western New York, according to the national retailers WalletHub analyzed. Just remember, a Sears in the midst of a going-out-of-business sale is going to have different prices controlled by a third-party liquidator.

Video games will have an average 43 percent markdown, followed by furniture (42 percent), consumer packaged goods (40 percent), appliances (38 percent), toys (36 percent), consumer electronics (34 percent); books, movies and music (33 percent) and computers and phones (31 percent).

The best places to look for video game deals will be Best Buy, with an average discount of 47 percent, followed by Walmart (46 percent) and Target (45 percent). Those stores topped the list of all national retailers.

This will be the Buffalo Niagara market's first holiday shopping season without Toys R Us, which has led all kinds of retailers to step up their toy game.

Of the five retailers WalletHub found offering the best discounts on toys, only one of them is in Western New York and it's an unlikely winner. Department store JC Penney, which has given its toy department an extreme makeover in recent years, ranked No. 3, having an average discount of 47.41 percent.

But just as not every sale on Black Friday is the real deal, not every sale in each of these categories at each of these stores will be top notch.

You still have to do your homework.

Here are the best overall average discounts WalletHub found for retailers in Western New York:

  1. JC Penney, 68.9 percent (up from 62.8 percent last year)
  2. Kohl's, 60.8 percent (down from 66.3 percent last year)
  3. New York & Co., 54.5 percent (no data last year)
  4. Payless ShoeSource, 50.3 percent (no data last year)
  5. Dick's Sporting Goods, 49.9 percent (up from 35.1 percent last year)
  6. Macy's, 48.7 percent (up from 45.6 percent last year)
  7. Sears, 42.9 percent (down from 50.1 percent last year)
  8. Office Depot and OfficeMax, 42.6 percent (up from 34.5 percent last year)
  9. Kmart, 37.9 percent (up from 35.8 percent last year)
  10. Target, 34.8 percent (down from 36.2 percent last year)
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