If you really want to make things easy on yourself, though, the NRF says that gift cards will remain the most requested holiday gift this year, with 57% of people asking for plastic as a present.
You can easily avoid those kinds of in-store messes, of course, by shopping online at your own convenience, even if you are doing it on November 26. Just check in or register with your favorite retailers or friend them on Facebook ahead of time to see what offers may come your way. For instance, Amazon.com starts a week of holiday deals on Monday, November 22, four days before Black Friday.
More people are expected to shop online this year than in 2009. In a report issued this week, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru forecast that U.S. online sales in November and December will increase nearly 16% over last year, reaching $51.7 billion.
If you don't get into the shopping groove until after the Thanksgiving weekend, many major retailers are also registering consumers now so that they can notify them of their CyberMonday deals (Cyber Monday is November 29). Check your favorite retailer's site for details.
De Grandpre from DealNews told PCWorld earlier this month that he is a firm believer in skipping the 2 a.m. doorbuster madness by shopping online. Last year, pretty much all the deals in stores were available on the Web, too, he says. If you have to get up early to grab a limited-quantity deal, he advises that you do so from home.
"There's no way to lose when it comes to scoring good deals this year," says NRF's Grannis. "For some, online promotions like free shipping are just as attractive as saving 20% on your entire purchase in-store."
Daily Deal Links for Major Stores (not all deals are tech-related)