November 23, 2011, 11:29 AM

‘Tis the season to shop

The deals are here, and there's little reason to wait until Monday.

In speaking with e-retailers over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to get a sneak peek of the deals and promotions they’re planning to offer this coming weekend, the traditional kickoff for holiday gift shopping. E-retailers, by and large, are activating at least some of their Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to capture sales while most retail stores are closed, and they’re also doing it because consumers, dosed with tryptophan from their Thanksgiving turkey, go online in droves starting in the late afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving was the second-highest day (Black Friday was first) for retail traffic last year, according to Experian Hitwise, a research firm that monitors web traffic. While many consumers went to the web to check out the deals stores would offer on Friday, they also bought more than $400 million worth of merchandise that day, comScore says.

I was asked during lunch with some girlfriends last weekend about when and where I expected to find the best deals this weekend. I told them that if they were ready with their shopping lists there was no real need to 1) go to stores, or 2) hold off until Cyber Monday, the industry-created moniker for the Monday following Thanksgiving when e-retailers typically offer good deals.

I told them that when you calculate in value of their time, the cost of gas and the sheer stress of crowds and overtired children, shopping online becomes a no-brainer, and the discount spreads I was seeing between Friday and Monday were pretty negligible. For example, apparel retailer Karmaloop.com says it will offer 25% off sitewide and free shipping on all orders more than $60 on Friday; on Monday the percent-off discount increases to 30% and the shipping offer remains the same. Pet product e-retailer Drs. Foster & Smith—a personal favorite of my canine best friend—will run special live video programming on Friday and Monday offering at least 50% off selected products, deals the e-retailer began promoting on site and in social media last week. I also told my friends to think twice before completing a purchase if the e-retailer charges them for standard shipping. In Internet Retailer’s canvas of the top 100 online retailers last week, 77% offered some form of free shipping, and I expect to see that percent to creep higher over the weekend.

My own credit card will breathe a sigh of relief this weekend as my shopping list for Friday and Monday is mercifully short. I’ll find out what a few family members have on their wish lists over Thanksgiving dinner and get those ordered, and sit back and enjoy the nap caused by my leftover turkey.

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