For the die-hard bargain hunter that goes to great lengths to score the best deals and deepest discounts, they'll want to plan a post-Thanksgiving Day road trip. Of course, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in the U.S., where stores offer major markdowns, crazy doorbuster deals, and rock-bottom prices.
It's estimated that 164 million Americans shop during Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. These millions of Black Friday shoppers scored an average discount of around 44% last year. (For related insight, read about the stores famous for the best Black Friday deals.)
Even still, shoppers in some states end up bagging even better Black Friday deals than consumers in other states. That’s right, for those looking to land the best of the best Black Friday deals, it might be time to hit the interstate.
Below are five of the best states for Black Friday shopping.
Although it’s better known as the Last Frontier, Alaska could be dubbed Black Friday Heaven. Not only does it have absolutely no state sales tax, but two of the state’s largest cities – Anchorage and Fairbanks – also don’t impose a local sales tax. While Alaska does not collect a statewide sales tax, it lets local jurisdictions enact their own sales taxes.
Sweetening the deal, it costs Alaskan shoppers a whole lot less to drive to their local stores. At just 14.65 cents per gallon, Alaska’s gas tax is the lowest in the country. The highest being Pennsylvania, at 58.70 cents per gallon. Of course, if you live in the Lower 48, this could be quite a trek for the sole purpose of Black Friday shopping. So you might want to explore some of the other options below.
Like Alaska, Delaware does not charge a sales tax. To top it off, this sales-tax–free haven is jam-packed with shopping meccas. Just off Interstate-95, there’s the Christiana Mall, which is chock full of department stores, including Nordstrom, Target, and Macy’s, as well as more than 170 other stores and shops.
Delaware is also home to three Tanger Outlet Centers, which offer Black Friday shoppers sales-tax–free mega-savings. Of course, the state also has plenty of big-box retailers lining the commercial corridor of U.S. 202. By contrast, in neighboring New Jersey you’ll be charged 6.625% sales tax.
As far as shoppers are concerned, the Treasure State is truly a treasure. Montana does not collect a state sales tax (although the state does allow some tourist attraction areas to assess resort and local-option taxes of up to 3%). Next door in North Dakota, the state sales tax is 5%.
Known as the Beaver State, Oregon also does not collect any state or local sales taxes. As a result, Washington State shoppers flock to Portland after Thanksgiving each year, on the hunt for tax-free Black Friday bargains. By comparison, Washington residents pay 6.5% in state sales taxes.
While New Hampshire collects tax on lodging, restaurant meals, and car rentals, it does not impose a state sales tax on consumer products. So if you live in New York (which has one of the highest combined average state and sales tax in the country), a Thanksgiving vacation might yield nearly 8.5% in savings on Black Friday purchases.
The Bottom Line
While you will certainly find Black Friday deals across the U.S. post-Thanksgiving, you’ll probably get the biggest bang for your buck in these five sales-tax-free states. Black Friday shoppers in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maine, and Hawaii also enjoy relatively good Black Friday deals. That’s because all five of these states have an average combined state and local sales tax of 6% or less.
On the other hand, shoppers in Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Washington, and Oklahoma are often considered the biggest Black Friday losers. Folks in these states will have to cough up 8% to 9% or more in sales taxes at the register.
Note that some states, such as New York and California, impose a "use tax" on out-of-state purchases that you then use within the state. Don't say we didn't warn you.