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5 Best States for Black Friday Shopping

Author: Ethan Harris

If you're a die-hard bargain hunter who goes to great lengths to score the best deals and deepest discounts, you might want to plan a post-Thanksgiving road trip. Of course, you know that Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in the U.S., when stores offer major markdowns, mind-blowing doorbusters and rock-bottom prices. During the Black Friday weekend of 2014 (Thursday to Sunday), more than 55% of consumers went shopping and shelled out a grand total of $50.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. These millions of Black Friday shoppers scored an average discount of around 39.6% with some discounts as high as 60%.

But did you know that shoppers in some states end up bagging even better Black Friday deals than consumers in other states? That's right. If you're looking to land the best of the best Black Friday deals, it might be time to hit the road.

Here are five of the best states for Black Friday shopping.

1. Alaska

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 doesn't collect a statewide sales tax, it lets local jurisdictions enact their own sales taxes.) To sweeten the deal, it costs Alaskan shoppers a whole lot less to drive to their local stores. At just 12 cents a gallon, Alaska's gas tax is the lowest in the country. (The national average is 30 cents a gallon.) Of course, if you live in the Lower 48, as they call the contiguous U.S. in Alaska, 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.

2. Delaware

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, JCPenney, Macy's and Cabela's, as well as more than 140 other stores and shops. Delaware is also home to three Tanger Outlet Centers, which offer Black Friday shoppers sales-tax–free mega-savings. (Be even more prepared: See 7 Tips for Outlet Mall Shopping and 3 Stores to Avoid This Coming Black Friday.) 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 an average of 6.97% sales tax (the average combined state and local).

3. Montana

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, combined state and local sales taxes average out to 6.56%.

4. Oregon

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 nearly 9% in state and local sales taxes.

5. New Hampshire

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 the seventh highest combined average state and sales tax in the country), a Thanksgiving vacation might yield nearly 8.5% in savings on Black Friday purchases. (Just don't eat at any restaurants, rent a car or stay in a hotel while you're there!)

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 less than 6%.

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. See also Best Ways to Prepare for Black Friday Deals in 2015, Black Friday: How the Shopping Day Got Its Name and, should you prefer to shop online, The 7 Best Websites for Deals on Cyber Monday 2015.

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.

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