The days of lining up on Thanksgiving evening to rush the stores for a big TV or laptop may be done for good.
For the second year in a row, most major retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving.
Last year, stores went live with their best online sales Thursday evening, but even that caused problems because websites quickly became overloaded.
So, for 2021, sales start earlier than ever, and in many cases, the big Black Friday sales are already underway.
To help prevent Thursday night sellouts and website frustration, Target, Walmart and Best Buy have already started their big sales.
They are holding back just a few deals for Thanksgiving this year, just to keep interest high. For instance, Best Buy will have rare $150 discounts on MacBook Airs starting Wednesday night.
But Julie Ramhold of DealNews.com says the promotions are weaker than in recent years due to rising prices and supply chain shortages.
"TVs really don't seem to be hitting the lows that were hoping for this year," Ramhold said. "So there are discounts, but they are not as good and there are not as many as we were hoping there would be."
Forget about markdowns on the new Xbox, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Ramhold says shoppers will be lucky just to find them.
But DealNews says the best bet is to start shopping now and not wait until Thanksgiving unless it is for a specific item that won't be on sale until then.
Ramhold has put together a Black Friday shopping guide on DealNews.com highlighting the best deals at each major store and some things not to buy this week, like wrapping paper.
How to make sure you are getting the best price
With so many stores still advertising low Black Friday prices, which deals are really the best?
That's where it helps to have a price comparison tool, according to tech reporter Thomas Germain, of Consumer Reports.
"One of the main things we recommend are browser extensions, which are these little apps you can add to Chrome and Firefox which will highlight individual products are you scroll through the web," Germain said. "One is called Camel, Camel, Camel and the other is called Honey, and these are both great tools."
Finally, most experts suggest shopping online on Tuesday and Wednesday to avoid Thursday night website problems. Last year, many people shopping on Walmart's website got error pages.
If you love the in-store experience
For those that miss the madness, there will be some in-store deals on Friday as retailers try to add some excitement. But the days of lining up after Thanksgiving dinner and running in when the doors open may be gone forever.
That way, you don't waste your money.
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