It's not Black Friday yet — but the price slashing has already started

Image: Shoppers reach out for television sets as they compete to purchase retail items on Black Friday at a store in Sao Paulo
Shoppers reach out for television sets as they compete to purchase retail items on Black Friday, Nov. 25, at a store in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Nacho Doce / Reuters

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By Jo Ling Kent

Black Friday sales are expected to hit $682 billion this year, prompting some retailers to get a jump start on collecting their share.

With just days until Thanksgiving, many department stores and big box retailers are already offering deep discounts ahead of the holiday.

"We are starting to see a trend where Black Friday promotion is starting earlier,” Sara Spivey, chief marketing officer at Bazaarvoice, told NBC News. “There's been a concerted effort in the retail front to try to stretch that shopping season out."

Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Sears, Target, and Best Buy are all opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Data from Adobe and Dealnews suggests it's the best day to pick up video games, computers, cameras, and sports equipment.

However, Black Friday is still king, with 115 million eager Americans planning to make the most of doorbuster sales and other low prices.

"We do know that it is still going to be the number one shopping day of the year,” said Sara Skirboll of RetailMeNot. “Plenty of retailers are focusing their efforts on Black Friday promotions — in fact, 42 percent are planning to target in-store shoppers. So the day is certainly not dead.”

And the discounts will be dramatic this year. Top retailers are slashing their prices by an average of 37 percent, according to WalletHub. Kohl’s and JCPenney will be among the stores offering even bigger savings — with an average discount of 66 percent.

But not all the best deals will be found in stores: According to data from Adobe, shoppers looking for tablets, appliances, TVs, and jewelry should buy online on Black Friday.

Similarly, it recommends waiting until Cyber Monday to buy toys online — or holding out until December to go and buy them in store.

Cyber Monday is also one of the best days of the year to snap up plane tickets or a last-minute vacation package, especially if your travel dates are flexible.