Black Friday rolls out this week, and thousands of Canadians will be booking flights across the border in hopes of crossing off their holiday gift lists.
November 28 is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with retailers offering huge Black Friday discounts on everything from toys to TVs.
Americans flock to the shops the day after their Thanksgiving, which always falls on a Thursday. The USA, unlike Commonwealth countries, does not observe Boxing Day and its sales, so the last Friday of November is traditionally their day for bargain hunters and kicks off the festive season.
While Canadian and international retailers also offer excellent Black Friday promotions (Flight Centre included) everything is bigger in America, and that includes malls, bargains and shopping opportunities. With many US retailers extending Black Friday the entire weekend, why not book a short getaway and hit the sales, States-side?
Here are our Top 5 US Cities for Black Friday Shopping:
1. Orlando, Florida
Florida is a favourite of Canadians, and Snowbirds are savvy shoppers in its abundance of outlet malls. We all know Disney World is Orlando’s main attraction, but for clever consumers during the holiday season, its malls might just be the Happiest Places on Earth. Just like when the kids see Mickey, you’ll smile ear to ear when you see Black Friday price tags. (Warning: smiling will also be a side-effect from the gifts you find for yourself, as well as the kiddies.)
Top Picks in Orlando:
a) Florida Mall - with 1.9 million square feet of retail space, this is Florida’s biggest shopping centre. Fashion, electronics, jewellery, health and beauty, children’s stores and more are all here. There is also a huge variety of dining options to keep you going on your mission. They are open on Black Friday 6am to 10pm, Saturday November 29 10am to 10pm and Sunday November 30 12pm to 8pm.
b) Premium Outlets – the largest outlet chain, it has two huge malls in the area, Orlando International Premium Outlets and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. They offer the longest Black Friday weekend hours: Friday November 28, open midnight until 11pm, Saturday November 28, open 8am to 11pm and Sunday November 30, 9am to 11pm.
c) Mall at Millennia – 150 stores offering everything from high-end to high-street fashion, plus other popular retailers and excellent food choices to fuel you and the family. It is open Black Friday 7am to 10pm, with extended hours on Saturday from 10am to 10pm and Sunday is regular hours, 11am to 7pm.
2. Tulalip, Washington
Just beyond the British Columbia border is Tulalip, Washington and on, Black Friday, Tulalip becomes a shopping Mecca. If you’re not crossing the border by car and happen to be flying into Seattle or Vancouver around Black Friday, spend the day at Seattle Premium Outlets, a supersized outlet mall, for the best shopping around. Just be sure to make the most of your time in your original destinations, too!
Top Pick in Tulalip: Seattle Premium Outlets. The complex is open on American Thanksgiving offering early bird (there’s a turkey pun in there somewhere) specials from 10am to midnight. Black Friday hours are midnight to 9:30pm, Saturday November 29, 8am to 10pm and Sunday November 30, 9am to 8pm.
3. Miami, Florida
Fashionistas, run as fast as your stilettos will take you to Miami’s Black Friday deals. This sizzling city is already a hot spot for style. The second Florida city to make our list, Miami also has stellar malls like Orlando. While the latter is a great place to find deals on just about everything for the family, Miami is particularly good for Black Friday clothing sales. Miami is considered a capital for fashion, playing host to several high-profile Fashion Weeks and home to designers and design districts alike, making it a great place to shop as well as be inspired. Our recommendations include outside shopping at every spot, so you’re not missing out on the glorious Miami sunshine.
Top Picks in Miami:
a) Sawgrass Mills – this could be your one-stop place to shop, with every type of retailer represented and an excellent array of designer fashions. As Florida’s largest retail and entertainment complex, you can take in a movie at the IMAX and choose to dine al fresco or indoors at one of the many restaurants. It opens at midnight until 9:30pm on Black Friday.
b) Various districts—Lincoln Road, Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive, Espanola Way are shopping destinations for the well-heeled, but you can score some great deals on Blahnik or Choo heels (and more!) on Black Friday. Downtown Miami is also must for bargain seekers, where you can indulge in the warm weather and your credit card. Village at Gulfstream Park is also a retail, dining and entertainment complex where you could shop the day away.
c) Dolphin Mall – you’ll find big names for everyone, including Bloomingdales, Gap, Nike and Neiman Marcus. Those in tow who are dropping from shopping can head to Cinebistro for a movie and dinner, the arcade or bowling alley.
4. New York City, NY
We can’t have a Top 5 about shopping and skip New York! It’s a magnet for trend-setters, where style is showcased in the stores and streets. The birthplace of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, it is historically synonymous with shopping, drawing tourists from around the world. Whether you’re putting down plastic on Fifth Avenue or picking vintage pieces in Greenwich Village, shopping is always on a New York to-do list and it’s no different on Black Friday. Actually, it kind of is—be prepared to get to the shops early on Black Friday. The line-up to cash out won’t be as quick as a New York minute, but you will nab great deals. Before you go donning combat fatigues to go shopping (though you would find them on sale!) be prepared for the crowds, and if they get to you, hey you’re in New York and there’s no shortage of other entertaining options for you.
Top Picks in New York:
It’s New York, where there is a shopping option for every budget and style. As one of the world’s fashion capitals and an inanimate muse for designers (of the most animated kind, of course) clothing options abound, but there are also shopping options galore for whatever you’re looking to gift.
5. St. Paul, Minneapolis
“St. Where?” you may be asking right now. But St. Paul has the most amount of retail stores (552 to be precise) in its gargantuan Mall of America. Once the biggest mall in the US, it is second after Pennsylvania’s King of Prussia Mall, but if you’re a Black Friday shopper, this is the place to be. Even the Apple Store in the past participated Black Friday promotions, which is virtually unheard of. Mall of America is in the greater area of Minneapolis, which also offers a huge selection of retail stores and outlets, notably Target, which is headquartered in Minneapolis.
“Shop till you drop” can be taken face value when it comes to the last Friday of November. Not only do millions of shoppers drop cash and credit cards that day, they drop of fatigue. So get some rest, keep hydrated and nourished and of course, enjoy the retail therapy.
If you're planning to drive across the border for some shopping, be sure to read our tips for crossing the US border by car.
Book a flight to one of these cities today, or a hotel room to make sure you’re well rested for Black Friday. A Flight Centre travel expert can bundle your airfare, hotel and car rental, into one low rate. Happy shopping!