November 24, 2017, aka Black Friday, is rapidly approaching. Are you ready? Do you have your camping gear and comfortable shoes at the ready? How about elbow pads and shin guards? Maybe you are doing finger exercises for all the nimble cursor work necessary for online shopping.

Whatever method you prefer, it's best to lay out a battle plan and prepare early. Any good battle plan requires reconnaissance – and we're here to help with some helpful hints and predictions.

Overall Spending Expectations – BestBlackFriday.com expects 2017 Black Friday spending to jump to $3.52 billion and Thanksgiving spending to increase to $2.05 billion. Combined, the two values represent a 5.7% increase over 2016 spending. They also predict that Thanksgiving weekend spending per individual will reach $295.33. How does that compare to your budget?

Retailers – The best average Black Friday discounts are predicted to be with department stores. BestBlackFriday.com sees JCPenney and Macy's offering average discounts of 60-65%, with Kohl's right behind at 55-60%. Wholesale clubs Sam's and Costco should come in with 25-30% average discounts. Best Buy is expected to offer 30-35% discounts, while CVS, Sears, Office Depot/OfficeMax, and Toys R' Us are all expected to be around 40-45%.

If you have a particular retailer that you like, watch for the release date of their Black Friday ad. By the time you read this, a number of retailers mentioned above, including Costco, JCPenney, and Best Buy, will have already released their ads, with the rest to follow shortly thereafter. Choose your retailers, check deals against your wish list, and lay out your plan to maximize savings.

Timing – Amazon has already kicked off the season with their Black Friday Deals Store that began on November 1. However, deals are likely to improve in quality and quantity as Black Friday approaches. Unless you find an absurdly good deal, we suggest waiting to allow all the major retailers to release their Black Friday ads.

Thanksgiving Openings – Stores have been encroaching on Thanksgiving with early evening holiday openings. Expect that to continue with major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl's, and Macy's – and early morning Thanksgiving openings from K-Mart and Walgreens.

However, the trend is shifting away from Thanksgiving shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Foot traffic is expected to drop for the second straight year on Thanksgiving as people switch to online shopping, wait until Black Friday to shop in-store – or maybe even enjoy traditional Thanksgiving dinners with their families.

Never Pay for Shipping – Don't let a sneaky shipping charge negate a chunk of your savings. Many stores should offer either free shipping on all orders or free shipping with a reasonably low minimum order, often between $25 and $50. Make sure that you double-check shipping policy before you finalize any deal.

Good 4K TV and Gaming Deals – This is the year where 4K TV prices are expected to shine during Black Friday. The price on a 70" 4K TV is expected to drop below $1,000 to $925, while 55" models should drop to $275 and 40" models may be as low as $165.

How about a gaming system to go with that new TV? Keep an eye out for special deals including game bundles and/or gift cards. The Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Slim are expected to be hot items, with 1 TB bundles providing excellent value in the range of $225-$250.

The National Retail Federation expects total holiday retail sales in November and December of 2017 to be between $678.75 billion and $682 billion. How much of that holiday shopping will show up on your credit card? With some planning and just a bit of luck, you can minimize your share. Let those who don't prepare pay full price.

If you want more credit, check out MoneyTips' list of credit card offers.


Photo ©iStockphoto.com/filadendron