5 great holiday deals before Black Friday

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    The holiday season has kicked into high gear, based on the promotions from retailers ranging from Walmart (WMT) to Toys 'R' Us.

    A few years ago, the start of the holiday shopping season was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when retailers opened their doors early and lured shoppers with extra-low prices on a few items. But with more pressure on retailers to ramp up sales and make the most of the year-end shopping season, many are rolling out deals earlier, turning the entire month into what's now considered "Black November."

    That means shoppers can find some good deals earlier in the month and don't have to brace themselves for dealing with crowded stores on Black Friday. There are a few keys to knowing how to find low prices this month, according to Kristin Cook, managing editor of Ben's Bargains. First, some product categories are more likely to offer good prices than others, based on Ben's Bargains analysis of past holiday shopping seasons.

    Second, consider buying an item now if it's anywhere from 35 percent to 40 percent below the regular retail price, she added. It's unlikely shoppers will find discounts that will dip much lower, and if they wait, they risk that stores will run out of stock, especially when it comes to hot toys this year, such as Star Wars-themed items.

    "You can find good deals starting now," Cook said. "Maybe you'll be able to find it for $2 to $3 less if you wait until Black Friday, but you'll have to deal with hordes of people."

    One category where it may pay to wait until Black Friday is TV sets, given that some retailers use flat-screen TVs as a lure to get consumers inside their doors, Cook added.

    Consumers should also consider using retailers' apps to track sales and gain coupons, such as Target's (TGT) Cartwheel app, which provides coupons on shoppers' smartphones, which they can then use in stores.

    Read on to learn about 5 great holiday deals that are available before Black Friday.