Does it pay to do holiday shopping early?

For sure holiday shopping has been pulled back into October and even July if you listen to diehard Amazon Prime Day shoppers. But with about five weeks until Christmas, don't sweat it.

There's still plenty of time to shop early. Does it pay to shop early? Will you save money if you do?

Some people study deals year-round and we talked to two of them: Consumer Reports deals editor Samantha Gordon and Dealnews consumer analyst Julie Ramhold.

Gordon and Ramhold have some good news if you worry that you're going to miss the lowest price. Feel free to start now.

"More and more prices aren't fluctuating like they used to," Gordon said. "Last year, we had Black Friday prices in October and they never went away, maybe ticked up slightly, but the same thing is happening this year."

"Some people still think this item is going to be lower at the end of November and I'll wait," Ramhold said. "That's just not the case anymore."

Ramhold offers some proof. Target has made a big deal of its price match offer good from Oct. 22 to Dec. 24.

"That suggests to me it's a good assumption that these prices are as low as they will go because they don't want their store associates to be inundated with price-match refund requests," Ramhold said.

For big-ticket items such as video game consoles, laptops and smart home devices, "it makes sense from a business standpoint to lower the price from the start and that's that," Ramhold said.

Target and Walmart, with its new and nostalgic Mean Girls TV ads, are already using the "Black Friday" term.


If you see a Black Friday deal "that fits your budget, get it and avoid the chaos," Ramhold said. "If you have to stick to a budget, you don't have to buy everything at once," Gordon said.

Consider the price difference. "If it's $10 cheaper at Best Buy than Target, but you have to drive 20 miles and burn more gasoline, it's not worth it," Gordon said.

Speaking of driving, both noted that retailers' deals are all online.

TV prices are the best this time of year with the deepest discounts around Black Friday week.

But beware of the famous off-brand Black Friday TV, Ramhold said, "You get what you pay for."


The best sales on Legos -- 30% and 40% -- are this time of year and when the brand lowers its prices, Ramhold said.

"We're going to see more toy deals in December," she said.

A caveat about toys: If it makes the hottest toy lists, get it on Black Friday or sooner. "You don't want it to sell out so pay a little more now."

The Barbie movie hasn't faded and remains strong, she said. "I fully believe there will be a lot of Barbie dolls under the tree and in stockings."


Consumers may have free money sitting around that they haven't thought much about in the form of loyalty and credit card points that can be converted into gift cards this time of year.

"I'm a big fan of using loyalty points to buy gift cards," Ramhold said. "And this time of year, Costco and Sam's Club expand their gift card selection which are discounted."

But what about doorbusters?

"Oh there will be some the week of Thanksgiving [day]," Ramhold said. "But they'll be available online the Wednesday before Thanksgiving." Pay attention to free "bonus" or "reward" cards with purchases this time of year, she said, they can expire, but gift cards don't.

Technology has changed Black Friday shopping. Many of the popular Black Friday pre-ads are already online on the retailer's websites and at

Google searches reveal prices across retailers and so do price tracking extensions.

But the hunt is still fun.