NEW YORK Get ready for Black Friday week.
Stores are pushing to lure bargain-hungry shoppers before the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. They are putting on special sales that creep further back in the week.
For the first time, Disney Stores, Sears and Kohl’s are among stores that will offer some of the same deals a few days before Black Friday that they offer to customers on that day.
Many also are targeting smartphone shoppers with apps that make it easier to shop the deals. Macy’s shoppers using the chain’s new Black Friday app will be alerted to unadvertised deals while they’re at the store.
But don’t get caught up in the shopping madness. A smart and measured approach to buying will preserve your holiday budget.
Here’s a smart way to do Black Friday:
• Research the deals and compare prices . Start mapping out a strategy now. List what you want and how much you want to spend. Visit www.decide.com, which uses data to help you decide the best time to buy a given product.
• Use social media. Follow your favorite stores’ Twitter feeds, and click “Like” on their Facebook pages. Stores will use their social networks to update shoppers on deals and store hours, said Carey Rossi, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unveiled its Black Friday deals Thursday on Walmart.com and its Facebook wall and mobile app. Those who sign up to get email, download the app or “Like” its Facebook page will get early access to special Black Friday store items to buy online and via the mobile app.
Kohl’s Facebook fans will receive exclusive savings during the holidays through Friday flash sales.
• Spread out the shopping. A number of stores allow shoppers to buy early-bird specials even earlier during Thanksgiving week.
Macy’s, Kohl’s Co. and Best Buy Co. will open at midnight after Thanksgiving. Department store chain Lord & Taylor will open at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
At Kohl’s, online shoppers can buy all early-morning specials Nov. 21 and all day Thanksgiving.
Sears stores will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and stay open overnight until 10 p.m. Friday. Sears will allow members of its free loyalty club, Shop Your Way, to buy some early-bird specials online as early as next Sunday.
Wal-Mart will start its first Black Friday sale at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. It will have two more rounds of sales, at 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
• Use your smartphone or tablet. Macy’s has a Black Friday app that will let customers shop for specials specific to the local store. Starting Thursday, customers can view Black Friday specials on their mobile devices and create shopping lists that they can edit and share.
Starting Nov. 19, Wal-Mart will have a Black Friday local store map to view and print on Walmart.com and its local Wal-Mart Facebook pages. Customers also can view interactive local store maps on the mobile app, and click on items to see their prices, product descriptions and locations in the store.
• Keep your receipts. You may find a better deal later, and it will be easier to return the more expensive item.