To Wait - or Not to Wait - for Black Friday Deals?

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Holiday Shopping
Robert F. Bukaty/AP
By Krystal Steinmetz

Christmas is still about eight weeks away, but retailers and many shoppers don't seem to care. Holiday shopping is in full swing.

Gone are the days when shoppers waited until Black Friday, once revered as the biggest shopping day of the year, to hit the stores and snatch up great deals on everything from clothing to electronics. Instead, early-bird shoppers are purchasing items off their holiday lists earlier than ever.

According to a new survey from coupon destination site RetailMeNot, just 10 percent of consumers today believe that Black Friday savings are really worth the wait and 85 percent of shoppers expect retailers to start their holiday promotions before Black Friday. "Consumers in record numbers are questioning the value of offers on Black Friday," said Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor at RetailMeNot. "While early bird behavior is beneficial for the strategic buyer, RetailMeNot's offer data still suggests that deals during the five days of savings from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday are stronger on a percent-off basis than in prior weeks."

For example, RetailMeNot said the deepest discounts on electronics and computers -- ranging from 38 to 40 percent off -- can be found between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and oftentimes into the first week of December.

But if you're shopping for little ones this holiday season, RetailMeNot suggests that you "act fast and purchase toys early." Because toy prices remain relatively stable throughout the holiday season, if you wait too long you might not have much to choose from if inventory runs low.

RetailMeNot said it's easy to score Black Friday-worthy discounts whenever you want if you follow this simple approach:
  • Purchase a discounted gift card, which are typically sold post-Cyber Monday, at your favorite retailer and get an instant savings of 2 to 20 percent.
  • Use the discounted gift card in conjunction with a coupon code or digital rebate. "RetailMeNot users report an average savings of $20 per transaction," said Kristen Larrea, RetailMeNot shopping expert. If you want to score even bigger savings, pay for your purchase with a cash-back credit card.
The survey also found that the most attractive promotions to shoppers are: money-back purchase options (44 percent), holiday sales (37 percent), flash-sale deals (31 percent) and door-buster offers (27 percent). Consumers said they can also be lured into stores by gift-wrapping services (24 percent) and good holiday music (16 percent).

When do you do most of your holiday shopping? Are you an early-bird shopper or a last-minute bargain hunter? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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