The biggest shopping day of the year will start even earlier in 2018. Black Friday is the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season, occurring on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, retailers are revealing their Black Friday deals in early November, with some, like Lowe's, offering deals as early as Nov. 1, and others rolling out free shipping for online shoppers to compete withfrom Amazon.com.
There's a method behind the Black Friday creep, with retailers trying to get consumers to shop all month, rather than only after Thanksgiving. And there's more at stake this year, given forecasts that consumers will boost spending as much as 5 percent this holiday season. Strong consumer confidence and a growing economy are adding up to a jolly holiday season, despite headwinds such higher interest rates.
Home improvement giant Lowe's started offering Black Friday specials on Nov. 1, including a 40 percent discount on some appliances. It's also offering a $50 gift card with the purchase of some artificial trees during November.
One of the major battles this holiday season will be over toys, with retailers slugging it out to grab market share in the wake of Toys R Us' closure, said Philip Dengler of BestBlackFriday.com.
"With Toys R Us out of business, all of the major retailers, including Best Buy, Amazon, Target and Walmart, are fighting for a share of the toy market," he said. "Each has already released holiday toy lists and toy books, and they will all be expanding their selection of toys this year."
Still, Dengler recommends waiting until mid-December to find the lowest prices on toys. Here are some tips and deals recommended by BestBlackFriday.com.
Kohl's for electronics
Consumers don't usually think of Kohl's as a source for electronics, but the department store chain will have some good deals this year, Dengler said. For instance, it will offer the Microsoft Xbox One S 1TB Minecraft Creators Console bundle for $199.99, with buyers receiving $60 in "Kohl's Cash" -- a coupon that can be redeemed for that amount on Kohl's merchandise -- which must be used from Nov. 24 trhough Dec. 5. That's a savings of $100 on the product's normal retail price.
"It is often possible to get better overall pricing on electronics at Kohl's compared to Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon when taking into account the Kohl's Cash," Denger said.
Kohl's will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and offer its "doorbuster" deals until 1 p.m. on Black Friday. It will also offer $15 in Kohl's Cash for every $50 spent in the store from Nov. 19-23.
Target for electronics, home items and toys
Target will offer attractive discounts on those items, such as its doorbuster deal for an Instant Pot Duo 6-qt 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker with a free $10 Target Gift Card for $69.95.
"This is a popular item every single year on Black Friday, and Target is positioning itself to potentially have the best price by including the $10 gift card," Dengler said.
Like Kohl's, Target will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, or an hour earlier than in 2017.
Typically a sought-after holiday item, iPhones are no exception in 2018. Holiday deals on the new iPhone XS and XS Max will be available at Target and Sam's Club, with Target offering a $250 gift card for the latest versions of the iPhones (with qualified activation at Verizon, Sprint or AT&T). Sam's Club, for its part, will offer up to a $300 Sam's Club gift card when customers purchase some iPhone models.
Free online shipping
Consumers shouldn't pay for shipping for online shopping on Black Friday because so many retailers are offering free shipping, Dengler said. Many online Black Friday sales will start on Monday, Nov. 19.
"Target is offering free two-day shipping with no minimum order size this holiday season, which is the best policy, in our opinion," he noted. "Best Buy is offering free standard shipping with no minimum, which is still solid."
Walmart is offering free two-day shipping on orders of more than $35, but for purchases under that amount Dengler advised using the retailer's e-commerce site for purchases under that amount.
Watch for more shipping news this month. Amazon on Sundayin time for Christmas, doing away with a minimum purchase price — even if you aren't a Prime member.
The company had previously set a threshold of $25 for orders to qualify for free shipping, but Amazon will waive that requirement starting Monday, according to the company. Hundreds of millions of items will therefore become eligible for free shipping.
Prime members, who are already entitled to free two-day shipping, will also receive a new perk: More than 3 million items will be available for same-day delivery during the holiday season.
-- CBS News' Peter Martinez contributed to this report.
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