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Smart spending: How to do Black Friday week right

Get ready for Black Friday week. Stores are making a big push to lure bargain-hungry shoppers before the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of holiday shopping. For the first time, Disney Stores, Sears, and Kohl’s are among those offering some of the same Black Friday deals a few days before Black Friday.

‘‘It’s no longer Christmas creep. It’s Christmas crush,’’ said Marshal Cohen, chief research analyst at NPD Inc., a market researcher, referring to the bevy of Black Friday deals shoppers will be able to get earlier that week.

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Many are also targeting smartphone users with apps that make it easier to shop the deals. Macy’s shoppers using a new app will be alerted to unadvertised deals while they’re in line at the store, for example.

But don’t get caught up in the madness. A smart and measured approach will preserve your budget. ‘‘You need to keep your wits about you,’’ said Jodi Furman, author of the blog Livefabuless.com. That said:

 Research the deals and compare prices. Start mapping out a strategy now. List what you want and how much you want to spend. Check out decide.com, which helps you decide the best time to buy a certain product.

Check out sites like bradsdeals.com and blackfriday.com, which list hours and circulars for the holiday weekend.

Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals, says stores are staggering sales throughout Black Friday week to create a ‘‘lot of noise’’ and make it difficult for smartphone-toting shoppers to compare prices.

 Use social media: Follow your favorite stores’ Twitter feeds and click the ‘‘Like’’ button on their Facebook pages. Stores will use their social networks to update shoppers on deals and store hours. Walmart, for example, unveiled its Black Friday deals on Walmart.com, its Facebook wall, and mobile app. Those who sign up to get e-mail, download the app, or ‘‘Like’’ its Facebook page will be among the first to get early access to Black Friday store items to buy online and via app.

Kohl’s Facebook fans will get exclusive savings during the holidays through Friday flash sales.

  Spread out the shopping. The hoopla isn’t limited to Black Friday anymore. A number of stores are allowing shoppers to buy the early-bird specials earlier in the week.

 Use your smartphone or tablet. For the first time, Macy’s, through a partnership with eBay, has a Black Friday app that will let customers browse and shop for specials specific to the local store. Starting Nov. 15, customers will be able to view Black Friday specials on mobile devices and create shopping lists they can edit and share.

Starting Nov. 19, Walmart will again have a Black Friday local-store map available to view and print on Walmart.com and its local Walmart Facebook pages. But this year, customers can view an interactive local store map on the Walmart mobile app and click on items to see the price, product description, and location in the store.

 Keep your receipts. With a growing number of stores offering pricematching with certain online rivals, you may find a better deal later and will have an easier time returning the more expensive item.

Anne D’Innocenzio writes
for the Associated Press.
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