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Roundup: Black Friday sales will be bigger, better

NEED TO KNOW
  • In-store Black Friday sales begin as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Holiday sales expected to jump 4.1% this year
More stores will open earlier than ever for Black Friday shopping.

Stores are going above and beyond this year to attract holiday shoppers. With offers ranging from price matching to extended layaway to Thanksgiving Day openings, this could be the best season of discounts and deals that shoppers have seen in years. Although you may have to miss Thanksgiving dinner, stores are saying it’ll be worth it.

Despite a struggling economy and reduced incomes nationwide, holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1% this year, to $586.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Although slower than last year’s 5.6%, that’s much higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 3.5%.

“This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, in a statement. “In spite of the uncertainties that exist in our economy and among consumers, we believe we’ll see solid holiday sales growth this year.”

The entire holiday shopping experience is a different ballgame compared to even just a few years ago. And although some shoppers question if the charade is beginning too early and too close to Thanksgiving dinner this year, let’s face it, if the doors open, millions of other shoppers will show up. Many of the big retailers changed the game last year by opening as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and this year, more and more stores will open earlier than ever.

So who’s opening when and with what kinds of sales?

Target: Target will open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thursday and continue sales through Saturday. Some of the big offerings include a 32” Apex LCD TV for nearly half the regular price at $147, a Nikon L310 digital camera for $99.99 (half the regular price), and the Nook Simple Touch for only $49 (regular price of $99.99). Check out Target’s Black Friday preview to see all the deals and to find a store in your area.

Shoppers can get super early deals at Target.com on Nov. 21. Customers who’ve signed up for Target e-mails, or have the store’s REDcard, can shop online on Wednesday night for a variety of deals ranging from kitchen supplies to electronics.

Target will also match online prices at competitors Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and Toysrus.com. So make sure you do your comparison-shopping before you settle on a price!

Wal-Mart: Wal-mart is bringing out the big guns this year. The world’s largest retailer is rolling out its Black Friday sales in three stages: 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Each of the three phases has special offerings, so check your local in-store ad to see what’s being offered in your area. Plus, if you can get to a Wal-Mart store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the retailer guarantees that certain products will be in stock at the advertised sale price. You just have to be in line and ready to go! Can’t wait? Wal-Mart’s Pre-Black Friday sale has new offers and deals every day leading up to Black Friday.

Here are some of the big deals Wal-Mart is offering this year:

  • Apple iPad2 16GB with Wi-Fi
    Price: $399 (Buyers also get a $75 Wal-Mart Gift Card as part of the deal.)
    Time available: Customers who are waiting in line inside the store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving are guaranteed the price and product.
  • LG Blu-ray Player
    Price: $38
    Time available: Customers who are waiting in line inside the store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving are guaranteed the price and product.
  • Samsung 43" Plasma HDTV
    Price: $378
    Time available: Starting 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving
    More details: 720p, 600Hz Class
  • HP Laptop
    Price: $279
    Time available: Starting 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Compaq Presario Laptop
    Price: $179
    Time available: Starting 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Nook Color 8GB Tablet
    Price: $99
    Time available: Starting 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Acer 13.3" Ultrabook 4GB
    Price: $499
    Time available: Starting 5 a.m. on Black Friday
    More details: 320GB solid state drive

Toys R Us:  Toys R Us was the first store to break the ice by opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving last year, and this year, the popular toy store is going even further. Toys R Us stores nationwide will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and a special gift this year for the first 200 shoppers to enter each store: a goody bag with $30 worth of stocking stuffers! But if you aren’t first in line, don’t worry, there will be plenty of sales Thursday night and all day Friday. This year’s 32-page ad is full of all kinds of discounts and deals, so check it out before you head out to do your shopping.

Here are just a few of the deals at Toys R Us this year:

  • $20 Toys R Us Gift card, plus $30 iTunes card, if you buy a fourth generation iPod Touch.
  • Barbie Escalade electric ride-on car: $269 ($100 savings)
  • Fisher-Price Grand Dollhouse: $39 (was $79)
  • Mega Blocks Halo sets: 40% off
  • Fisher Price Dora's Kitchen set: $49 (was $125)
  • Samsung Galaxy 2 Tablet: $299 (was $399)

Toys R Us has a special online sale going on now through Wednesday. The site has various special flash deals, and shoppers get 20% off the purchase of a regular-priced toy of $100 or more, plus free shipping.

Best Buy: Although it’s one of the few big retailers to hold off until Black Friday, Best Buy will be just as crowded as the rest of them. Shoppers in line as early as 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving will get tickets to guarantee them the chance to purchase certain popular items. Best Buy will open most stores at midnight on Black Friday. Check out Best Buy’s Black Friday preview ad for all the best deals. The store is also offering various deals throughout this week leading up to Black Friday. See those deals here. Here are a few of the big in-store deals:

  • DVDs of hit movies and television shows for under $9
  • 40-inch Toshiba HDTV for just under $180
  • Samsung 15.6-inch laptop for just under $350

Sam's Club: Doors will open to members on Friday morning at 7 a.m., and don’t worry if you’re still tired, you can look forward to free Starbucks coffee to get you moving through the warehouse. Sam’s will also offer Black Friday deals on its website starting at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Here are some of the top deals:

  • HP "Sleekbook" notebook for $399
  • 65-inch HDTV for $998
  • Blu-ray DVD player for $38
  • Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner for $249
  • Six-piece Wolfgang Puck cutlery set for just under $20

Sears: Stores will open as early as 8 p.m. on Thursday, and the 64-page Black Friday ad has a wide range of discounts and deals this year, from handbags to televisions to laptops. The ad also comes with an additional $10 off coupon for those who spend more than $40, online or in stores.

Macy's: Stores open midnight on Black Friday and shoppers can get a variety of deals starting on Thursday on the store’s website. You can also get Black Friday alerts sent to your smartphone, to keep up with all of the store’s Black Friday special sales. Here are a few of this year’s deals:

  • $199 diamond stud earnings (normally $600)
  • $99 Bulova stainless steel watches
  • Cookware sets, standing mixers, and juicers will all be on sale
  • Comforters and bedding sets
  • Many cosmetics purchases will come with free gifts, including gift sets, iPhone cases, and cosmetic bags.

For more on all of this year’s Black Friday news, check out Black Friday sites such as BlackFriday.com and BlackFriday2012.com.

Some store openings & store hours for Black Friday are tough to find, so here are a few more you may be looking for:

  • Costco: 9 a.m. Black Friday
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
: 12 a.m. Black Friday
  • Home Depot
: 5 a.m. Black Friday
  • JCPenney
: 6 a.m. Black Friday
  • Kohl's: 12 a.m. 
Black Friday
  • Kmart: Thanksgiving 8 p.m. – 3 a.m.; Black Friday 5 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Lowe's: 5 a.m. Black Friday (varies depending on location)
  • Macy's: 12 a.m. - 1 p.m. Black Friday (varies depending on location)
  • PetSmart: 7 a.m Black Friday
  • Radio Shack: 6 a.m. Black Friday
  • Sears: 
Thanksgiving: Open 8 p.m. - 12 a.m.
; Black Friday Door Busters: 4 a.m.
  • Sports Authority
: Black Friday Hours: 12:01 a.m. - 3 p.m.

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