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4 Things You Need to Know About Black Friday 2016

Here’s an early look at what to expect for the holiday season’s biggest shopping day.

It’s only October, but the eyes of retailers and bargain-hunters are trained on late November, when the holiday shopping season launches in earnest on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Stores are already starting to stock, organize and get ready to advertise Black Friday doorbusters and deals.

Retailers are also hoping for a solid uptick in sales, which is looking likely. The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday-season sales in November and December will jump 3.6% over 2015, to $655.8 billion. Online sales are projected to increase between 7% and 10% over last year to as much as $117 billion.

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Thinking about doing your holiday shopping Thanksgiving week? Here’s the early edition forecast of what to expect for Black Friday 2016.

Don’t Jump the Gun

Many retailers are already rolling out displays and sales. I’ve seen holiday merchandise at BJ’s Wholesale, Costco, Lowe’s and Walmart. At this point, much of it is centered around décor: outdoor and indoor lights, artificial Christmas trees and the like. Hold your horses for the real deals in gifting, though.

“Store will advertise ‘early Black Friday’ deals in early November, but that's just a marketing ploy,” says Benjamin Glaser of deals website DealNews.com. “The really good discounts start the Monday before Black Friday.” If you’re marking your calendar, that’s November 21.

Keep an Eye on Walmart and Target

Deals experts keep a tight watch on Walmart and Target for hints of the direction holiday shopping is headed and the hot products the two will be touting.

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If Walmart sticks to its pattern from recent years, expect to see its Black Friday ad land on or around Nov. 10, about two weeks before Black Friday. (Insider tip: The ad first rolled out in 2015 on Walmart’s mobile app before it went online or in print.) Walmart called last year’s game plan for select doorbuster items a success – so it will likely be implemented again in 2016. That includes the 1-hour guarantee: Shoppers who lined up an hour before stores opened were guaranteed to get select doorbuster merchandise on sale – even if that store ran out of its stock.

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Target’s Black Friday ad is one of the most eagerly awaited of the season, according to deals websites. Shoppers look for the best bargains and competing retailers seek out what they’re going to match – or undercut – on price. Last year, Target’s ad topped out at 40 pages, up from 32 in 2014.

Brace for the Thanksgiving Revolt

After seeing increasingly more stores and shopping centers move up the start of Black Friday shopping to Thanksgiving Day, there seems to be a retrenching this year. There’s a growing list of retailers vowing to keep brick-and-mortar stores dark on Thanksgiving (online is always 24/7, of course). Minnesota’s massive Mall of America, for one, will be closed on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in years. So too will the Barnes & Noble, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, Lowe’s, H&M, Nordstrom, Sam’s Club, T.J. Maxx and GameStop chains.

As a journalist, I’ve followed the retail scene since 1992. I’ve worked several Thanksgivings covering the growing number of retailers who propped open their doors on the holiday. And I covered the people who shopped those days, as well as the ones who brayed at Retail America for stepping on an important family tradition. Whichever side you fall on, if you plan to shop during Thanksgiving week this year, plan accordingly.

TVs Will Take Center Stage

It’s a truism of Black Friday that televisions will lead the way in electronics deals. That’s because many retailers drastically discount doorbuster TVs in order to get shoppers excited – and inside stores.

It will be no different this year. On Black Friday, DealNews projects some retailers will be offloading 65-inch 4K TVs at doorbuster prices. Look for the super-high-resolution models – 4K TVs have four times the resolutions of traditional HD sets – for around $459, down from the average price of $1,025.

In previous years, Best Buy, Walmart and Target led the way in TV discounts, with Target’s pricing tipping near 50% off Thanksgiving week, according to both DealNews and BFAds.net, a website devoted to tracking Black Friday ads.

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