Do yourself a favor and plan before you hit the stores on Black Friday, or even earlier if you choose to venture out on Thanksgiving.
This year, as has often been the case, retailers are all over the map when it comes to kicking off deals — some start Thursday afternoon, some Friday morning. J.C. Penney, for example, will open its doors as early as 2 p.m. on Turkey Day, while big-box retailer Wal-Mart will keep the lights on for 24 hours straight but doesn't start doling out discounts until 6 p.m. Thursday.
Other retailers, like Nordstrom and TJ Maxx, opt to keep their doors closed until the crack of dawn Friday, starting deals then. Some, including Sears, Target and Best Buy, will open for a few hours on Thanksgiving and then close before kicking off a second round of specials the following day.