It’s nearly here – Black Friday. the official firing of the retail starting gun in the race through the holiday season to get great gifts at the best prices.

For retailers how they do on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a prediction of what they can generally expect in the 4th quarter of their year.

It’s a big deal.

Retailers like Best Buy, who last year promised, but didn’t deliver on a lot of goods (canceling orders made a lot of folks pretty peeved…) may see a dip in sales but it’s doubtful as consumer memories are short when you throw up a 46″ HDTV for $197 for a Doorbuster deal!

But is Black Friday a boon for consumers who want the best deals possible on clothing, electronics, toys and holiday gift items?

  Yes!

There are fantastic deals available during Black Friday both in-stores and online.  However, consumers will often find that in both locations, the hottest deals are snapped up before they can get to them and ‘Sold Out’ will be an issue when promotions like free gift cards are in the mix.

They will also find that many stores will offer similar deals off and on throughout the holiday season leading up to Christmas, but it may be in the form of limited time only sales with coupons in your local paper, or promotions for online-only deals.

Online Black Friday deals will happen everywhere, and often, like the case with evo’s Biggest Sale, be combined with Outlet prices for outstanding savings on big ticket items like ski boots and The North Face jackets.

Then there’s the up and coming Cyber Monday, right on the heels of Black Friday.

It’s a gamble whether or not the deals will be better on Cyber Monday.  My advice is that if you really want the item on Black Friday and it looks like you may not be able to get it at the price you’re happy with later,  buy it when you see it.  Particularly if that item has a size or color selection that may not be available later.

One note on refurbished electronics items sold during Black Friday.  If you find a Black Friday deal on a refurb, make sure you’re purchasing it from a reputible retailer such as Newegg, Apple, TigerDirect or Amazon.  Make sure it has a warranty with terms you’re comfortable with, and a good return policy under that warranty.  That goes for deals sold off of Ebay too!

2012 Black Friday online expect to see deals on iPod Touch 4th and 5th generations, Apple iPads (refurbished and new), clothing and outerwear deeply discounted, gift card promotions, cheap laptops,  buy-one-get-one toy and DVD s, and lots of flash sale deals at crazy-low prices from places like WhiskeyMilitia , TheClymb, and Zulily.

The good news – deals are out there!

The bad news – they just keep coming, and you have to decide which deals are the best deals for you.

If you’re looking for online Black Friday deals, check out the Savvy Sleuth’s 2012 Black Friday Deal Sheet which will be posted at 12:01am on Friday, 11/23.