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Best time to shop online may be now

Move over Cyber Monday, consumers may find the biggest discounts on many goods by shopping online on Thanksgiving Day. Part of the reason is that more retailers are matching promotions available in stores that day with online deals.

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Move over Cyber Monday, consumers may find the biggest discounts on many goods by shopping online on Thanksgiving Day. Part of the reason is that more retailers are matching promotions available in stores that day with online deals.

The holiday shopping season is about to begin in full force. But you may not want to wait until Black Friday to start hunting for deals — especially if you're shopping online.

That's the takeaway from an analysis of online shopping trends by Adobe Digital Index, a research group that studies online sales data. The research, based on three years' worth of shopping data, found that discounts on toys, electronics and other goods tend to get deeper the closer we get to Thanksgiving.

But people who hold out for cheaper prices risk missing their chance to buy what they want. That's because as discounts become more generous, out-of-stock messages double or triple, depending on the product, the report found.

Intuitively, that makes sense: The better the deal, the more likely people are likely to snap up toys, tablets and whatever else. But the analysis also points out a trend that some bargain hunters may find surprising. The best deals for online shoppers aren't found on Black Friday or even on Cyber Monday. Instead, the deepest discounts for many goods were offered on Thanksgiving Day.

That may be explained partly by the trend of more retailers launching promotions on Thanksgiving Day in recent years and increasingly matching the promotions available in stores with the deals consumers can find online. For example, Walmart is among the retailers moving in that direction, with 96 percent of Black Friday deals available both online and in stores this year.

Toys, electronics, jewelry and other items all have different patterns for when prices tend to rise and fall. So consumers trying to find the best day to buy something will need to split up their online shopping sprees. And they may need to start as early as today, says Tamara Gaffney, a principal analyst for Adobe Digital Index.

Here's a quick guide on the best time to act to buy toys, clothes and other items, according to Adobe's analysis.

That may be explained partly by the trend of more retailers launching promotions on Thanksgiving Day in recent years and increasingly matching the promotions available in stores with the deals consumers can find online. For example, Wal-Mart is among the retailers moving in that direction, with 96 percent of Black Friday deals available both online and in stores this year.

Toys, electronics, jewelry and other items all have different patterns for when prices tend to rise and fall. So consumers trying to find the best day to buy something will need to split up their online shopping sprees. And they may need to start as early as this weekend, says Tamara Gaffney, a principal analyst for Adobe Digital Index. Here's a quick guide on the best time to act to buy toys, clothes and other items, according to Adobe's analysis.

Toys: Saturday before Thanksgiving

People shopping for toys may want to get started today, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Gaffney says. While toys are likely to be cheapest on Cyber Monday, out of stock messages are expected to triple by then, according to Adobe's projections. The discounts offered on Saturday should be close to those seen on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, so some people may want to act while stores are still likely to have inventory of the most popular items, Gaffney says.

Electronics: Monday before Thanksgiving

Electronics will go on deep discount on Thanksgiving Day, the forecast shows. But competition for gadgets will be fierce, with out-of-stock notices expected to jump by more than six times that day. So, Adobe recommends people start buying their electronics as early as Monday. Discounts should be more generous then than they were earlier this month — coming close to the specials people might see on Cyber Monday — but products should still be available. It might also be smart to act by Cyber Monday, since prices are expected to increase after that.

Apparel: Thanksgiving Day

People who want to give clothing as gifts or to upgrade their wardrobes before the holidays should take advantage of the deep discounts available on Thanksgiving. But there's no rush. Apparel is expected to get cheaper after Cyber Monday, Gaffney says. Clothes and accessories follow a different pattern from other goods, partly because some people are more likely to buy clothing for themselves than they are to buy it as a gift. In general, retailers will sweeten the deals to entice people to spend more on clothing while they are shopping for gifts, she says. Some stores may hold off on discounting items they know consumers will need, such as fancy shoes or formal attire that they might need for the work holiday party, she adds. It might be smart to wait to buy generic items, like socks, until right after Christmas when retailers may be looking to get rid of excess inventory, Gaffney says.

Jewelry: Thanksgiving Day

Jewelry is another one of those rare categories where the best day to shop online is also the day when discounts are expected to be the most generous. Consumers buying jewelry should try to act on Thanksgiving Day, when prices will be low and inventory should still be high, Gaffney says.

Inventory tends to drop off after Cyber Monday, she says, with more people buying jewelry in December as we get closer to the holidays. But people who wait to buy may miss out on the peak discounts of 25 percent expected for Thanksgiving. By Black Friday, average discounts are expected to shrink to 20 percent and by Cyber Monday they should be even less generous.

Best time to shop online may be now 11/20/15 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2015 8:30pm]
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