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Should You Shop on Thanksgiving?

Here's what to consider if you're deciding between going shopping and spending the holiday with friends and family.

A lot has been made about the fact that several major retailers will be opening their doors on Thanksgiving to holiday shoppers. Many have complained that this special day should be reserved for family -- not shopping. Facebook pages have popped up encouraging people to boycott Thanksgiving Day sales. And petitions have been started on Change.org to stop stores from opening on Thursday.

Yet, more than one-third of consumers said they are certain that they will shop at Thanksgiving sales, according to a Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research survey. And a RetailMeNot.com survey found that about 20% of consumers said that Thanksgiving sales will give people a fun family activity to do on that day and will give shoppers who have to work on Black Friday the opportunity to get great deals.

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So, clearly, there are differences of opinion. If you're on the fence, though, here are several things you should consider:

You can find Thanksgiving/Black Friday-caliber deals now. Several major retailers, such as Walmart, Toys R Us and Lowe's, are already selling select items at Black Friday prices (Lowe's sale is online only). And Amazon will launch its Black Friday Deals Week Sale that features new deals every 10 minutes on Sunday, November 24. BFAds.net is posting information about these early sales as they occur. Michael Brim, founder of BFAds.net, says that if you take advantage of these deals now, you probably can get the majority of your shopping done before Thanksgiving.

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You can do your shopping from home. If you don't want to miss the sales on Thanksgiving but also don't want to leave the table halfway through your meal, you'll be able to find plenty of deals online -- even doorbuster deals that people line up outside stores to get. Brim says that most retailers offer their doorbusters both in stores and online. And if a major retailer isn't offering its biggest deals online, there's a good chance that Amazon will be selling those items or similar ones online at the same low prices. See Why You Should Do Your Holiday Shopping Online.

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You might have to head to a store if there's a deal you really want. Even though many retailers offer their doorbuster deals online, they typically don't announce which deals will be available in both their stores and on their Web sites before the sales begin. So if there's an item you really want at a deeply discounted price, you might not want to wait at home to see if it's available online. That means heading to the stores on Thanksgiving because Brim says the retailers that will be open Thursday will be offering their best deals of the holiday weekend on that day (we'll be sharing those deals with you next week, so check back). If you wait until Friday to do your shopping at those stores, the items you want might already be gone. Just make sure the sale item you want truly is a good bargain that's worth leaving home to buy (see Some Black Friday Deals Aren't Bargains).

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