The turkey is brining, the silver is polished, and the tablecloth is ironed for your fancy Thanksgiving dinner. So you know what that means: It’s time to make your game plan for shopping the Black Friday deals.

Here, we’ve answered key questions in an attempt to help you get smart about filling that shopping cart – whether yours is real or virtual.

When do the sales start? While most big retailers will offer a special menu of deals that start Thursday and Friday, plenty have already gotten the promotion action started. Target launched its 10-day blitz of category-specific deals on Nov. 22, and Amazon began offering fresh holiday deals as often as every five minutes back on Nov. 20. Wal-Mart launched thousands of discounts way back on Nov. 1.

That said, here’s a lineup of when many brick-and-mortar stores will kick off their official Black Friday bonanzas.

Keep in mind that many of these chains will give you online access to their doorbuster deals before they start the in-store action. Wal-Mart, for example, will start its online sale at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Thanksgiving, while Sears will launch them at 8 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday.


 6 a.m. Kmart is the first to open its brick-and-mortar outposts.

 3 p.m. JCPenney opens, making it one of few retailers to open its doors earlier this year than last year.

 5 p.m. Best Buy and Toys R Us open.

 6 p.m. More retail heavyweights kick off sales, including Target, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s.

 10 p.m. to midnight. This is roughly the time when many malls and specialty chains will start welcoming shoppers. Before you head out, it’s probably best to check with your local shopping center and see which stores are scheduled to open when.


Throughout the morning: Big chains that stayed closed for Thanksgiving – including H&M, T.J.Maxx and Staples – will join the deals fray.

What items are going to be hot? Analysts and retailers are predicting it’s going to be a big year for toys: “Star Wars” merchandise, especially, is expected to sell briskly this year given all the hype around the new movie in the franchise that is set to open in December.

But “Star Wars” isn’t the only hot toy property this season. Experts and forecasters predict items from Paw Patrol, Lego Dimensions and Skylanders will also be big sellers. And NRF survey data found that Barbie is the most in-demand character among parents shopping for little girls this year, perhaps good news for Mattel and its new Hello Barbie, which is equipped with voice-recognition software.

On the electronics front, HHGregg has said it expects it to be a “4K holiday,” with many shoppers choosing to upgrade their TVs to sets that boast this sharper picture resolution. (And you can expect many that opt for 4K will be getting it in a huge size.)

Based on buzz on social media, Adobe predicts we’ll also see strong sales of wearable devices such as Apple Watches and Fitbits; game consoles such as Playstation 4; and video games such as Minecraft and Halo 5.