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The Best Time to Shop Holiday Sales? Before Thanksgiving

Particularly if you have your eye on something for which there is high demand — and you probably do.
An Amazon fulfillment center. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

An Amazon fulfillment center. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

I know you're probably groaning because we haven't even reached Halloween and we're already talking about the holidays. But based on Adobe's annual holiday online shopping forecast — which accurately predicted consumer online spending within two percent in previous years — you're going to want to start working on your holiday shopping game plan earlier than ever.

For last-minute shoppers and those still loyal to the Black Friday ritual, there may be steep discounts, but it's the early birds — that is, the ones that start shopping the Saturday before Thanksgiving through Thanksgiving Day — that are going to get the best worms. Adobe says that while Thanksgiving will see the lowest prices, out-of-stock incidents increase by 83 percent that day. The best shopping times do vary by category: Toys will get the biggest price drops on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, while electronics will be the cheapest that following Monday. Make jewelry purchases a priority on Thanksgiving Day, though. Apparel sales, it seems, are harder to predict: Discounts will be spread throughout the season, Adobe says.

Interestingly, Adobe also found that we're not going to get very creative when it comes to shopping for our loved ones. An estimated 76 percent of online spending will go to 1 percent of products — primarily electronics and gift cards. In other words, we're all going to buy the same obvious stuff. Adobe mined social media data for insight into what specific gifts will be most popular. Based on online chatter, Star Wars' BB-8 droid, Barbie and American Girl dolls, FitBits, Kindles and a number of Apple products, from Watches to iPads, are at the top of shoppers' minds.

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You're also going to be using mobile to shop more than ever. For the first time, the majority — 51 percent — of online shopping visits, and 29 percent of actual online purchases on Thanksgiving Day, will be driven by mobile devices. That's a 12 percent increase over last year. Social media will not be much of a sales driver, though it will be a strong source for sales info.

Overall, Americans are expected to spend $83 billion online this holiday season, 11 percent more than last year. About $3 billion of that will be spent on Cyber Monday, $2.7 billion on Black Friday and $1.6 billion on Thanksgiving Day, which is 18 percent more than last year. Because why go outside when you can make purchases from the comfort of your couch?