Forget turkey and pumpkin pie. More Americans are looking forward to doorbuster deals in the days ahead.
Roughly 85% of adults will shop over Thanksgiving weekend, and 80% will visit a mall or shopping center, according to a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Lured by steep discounts and buoyed by a strong jobs market, shoppers will spend an average of $470, nearly 5% more than last year, with holiday sales expected to top $101 billion over the course of the weekend, according to the report, which surveyed more than 1,000 people this month.
"Promotions have always been a critical part of a retail strategy, and our research shows the same holds true for this Thanksgiving weekend — almost two-thirds of shoppers plan their holiday shopping around this weekend," said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC.
The National Retail Federation estimates that more than 165 million people will shop in stores and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
Getting a great deal has become so integral to Black Friday that nearly half, or 45%, of millennials said all of their holiday shopping takes place on the day after Thanksgiving, according to a separate survey by the shopping app Flipp.
Scoring items on sale is the No. 1 thing Black Friday shoppers look forward to — even more than finding the perfect gift, the report found.
Here's how to make the most of the shopping holiday:
For starters, do your research. Savings expert Lauren Greutman advises creating a shopping list and a budget before looking for the best deals to avoid overspending on impulse purchases.
Then, study advertisements and pricing to determine which retailers to visit and whether to make purchases in store or online.
"Figure out what your shopping list is and then look for the best deals on those items," Greutman said.
From one year to the next, the bulk of the Black Friday sales are more or less the same as they have been before, according to Brad's Deals. That means that once you know what to look for, figuring out a strategy for this season is relatively simple.
Historically, Black Friday has been a great time to buy toys and electronics, including, for example, bargain TVs, Beats headphones and Instant Pots for up to 50% off, according to Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com.
So far this year, some of the best deals include a 70-inch Samsung TV at Best Buy for just $550 or the Vizio 70-inch Smart TV for $600 at Costco, as well as the Google Home Mini for $19 at Dell Home, according to Ramhold. Not to be outdone, Amazon ispromoting an Echo Dot three-pack for $65.
That is the "best gift card offer we've seen for this phone for Black Friday," Ramhold said.
With other items, however, it pays to wait. Winter clothing, fitness equipment and holiday decorations are all cheaper in January, according to Greutman.
Keep in mind that some deals may not be as good as they appear. Older model video game consoles, for instance, will be deeply discounted; however, that may not be what your recipient is hoping to unwrap this year.
Also note store opening hours and how long the discounts run — doorbuster deals or Amazon's "Holideals" are typically available for a limited time. This year, even more retailers are stacking sales to lure consumers back throughout the day.
And finally, be aware that some of the best deals will come and go before the big day itself. Many retailers now roll out discounts even earlier to beat the competition, so look for some steals on Thanksgiving.
In fact, 80% of shoppers would be willing to give up their Thanksgiving dinner for the right deal, according to Flipp's survey.
Flipp polled more than 1,000 adults in September. The NRF surveyed more than 7,700 adults in October.