Love it or hate it, Black Friday isn't only here to stay, it's arriving earlier.
Big retailers are kicking off the start to the holiday shopping season by offering "early Black Friday" sales or opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, providing consumers who want to sneak away from their turkey dinner festivities a way to get an early start on shopping. Many of them are publishing their Black Friday sale advertisements this week in a bid to entice shoppers through their doors on Nov. 23 and 24.
"Now we're seeing more and more retailers offering their actual Black Friday deals early," said Courtney Jespersen, consumer savings expert at NerdWallet. "Best Buy, for instance, hosted early deals when its ad leaked on Nov. 8. Office Depot and JCPenney are also giving teaser deals early. Retailers are trying to get consumers to shop all month long - as opposed to only on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday."
Retailers are heading into this year's Black Friday with a lot of stuffing at stake: The battle between online stores such as Amazon (AMZN) and brick-and-mortar chains such as Toys "R" Us has intensified. So far, the real-world stores are getting bruised, with more than a dozen filing for bankruptcy protection this year.
Consumers may benefit from the competition, as some retailers dangle low prices on TVs and other technology as a way to entice shoppers out of their homes, said Phil Dengler of BestBlackFriday.com, which tracks deals.
"Stores do want to offer something that will get them through the doors, because it's more of an incentive to buy if they're in the location," Dengler said. "It's very important for some of the stores like Sears and Kmart. Both of those stores are really struggling right now."
Sears (SHLD) this year, banking that the glossy catalog will help bring shoppers back into its locations. The catalog has added online and mobile features, such as creating online lists from the Wish Book.
A stronger economy and a longer holiday shopping season -- one extra weekend day this year -- are expected to boost holiday sales.
The Thanksgiving weekend will play a big part in the tradition. Americans will spend $5.57 billion online during Thanksgiving and Black Friday, with Amazon and Walmart (WMT) dominating online transactions, BestBlackFriday.com added. Overall holiday sales this year are forecast to rise as much as 4 percent to $682 billion, the National Retail Federation predicts.
"More and more sales are happening online, and with a few exceptions, you'll be able to get the same deals online that you'll find at the store," NerdWallet's Jespersen said. "Still, it's worth checking out the fine print in Black Friday ads to see if the item you're considering is one of the in-store deals.
Several years after retailers started opening their doors on Thanksgiving day, the idea remains controversial. A survey from BestBlackFriday.com found almost six out of 10 Americans don't agree with the trend.
That may explain why some retailers are calling it quits on Thanksgiving or trimming their holiday hours. Target (TGT), for one, said it would hit the pause button on through-the-night Thanksgiving shopping. Its stores will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and then close at midnight local time. The locations will then reopen at 6 a.m. local time on Friday until 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or midnight local time.
Sears Hometown Stores and Shoe Carnival are among the companies that are reversing their decision last year to open on Thanksgiving Day.
Walmart is among the retailers kicking off Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving morning. It's also launching its in-store Black Friday event at 6 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving Day. And it's offering early deals from Nov. 9 through 12 on toys, tech and household items, such as an Acer Aspire ES laptop for $449, or $80 less than its typical cost.
Amazon hasn't yet announced its Black Friday deals, although it has already started its "Countdown to Black Friday" sales, which began on Nov. 1.
While toys are often featured as Black Friday deals, better prices can often be found around Dec. 10 to 17, when retailers are eager to get rid of inventory as the holiday approaches, Dengler said.
Below are the some of the top Black Friday deals retailers are currently advertising, according to BestBlackFriday.com.
1. Best Buy: Sharp 50" Class LED 2160P Smart 4K Ultra HD Roku TV for $179.99 (save $320)
2. Best Buy: Save $300 on the Samsung Galaxy Note8, S8, or S8+ with activation
3. Kohl's: Microsoft Xbox One S 500GB console + $45 Kohl's Cash for $189.99 (save $90)
4. Kohl's: Sony Playstation 4 1TB console + $60 Kohl's Cash for $199.99 (save $100)
5. Kohl's: Haier 55-in 4K Ultra HDTV + $90 Kohl's Cash for $299.99 (save $100)
6. Target: Xbox One S 500GB w/ $25 gift card for $189.99 (save $90)
7. Target: 55'' Westinghouse Smart UHD 4K TV for $249.99
8. Walmart: Sharp 55" Class 4K (2160P) Smart LED TV for $298
9. Walmart: With Apple device qualifying purchase, get a $300 Walmart gift card
10. Target: $250 Target gift card with iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 plus activation