Holiday shopping survival guide: When to find the best deals

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Thanksgiving is one week from Thursday, and that means the holiday shopping madness is almost here. Before you know it you'll be fighting for parking spaces, navigating unruly crowds, and taking elbow shots in the kidney trying to snatch up that Black Friday HDTV special. But when is the best time to risk life and limb and venture out into the overcrowded malls or maybe just spend hours hunched over your laptop searching out deals online?

[RELATED: 10 Black Friday deals available right now ]

If you're buying electronics this holiday season there are nine specific days you'll want keep your eye on, according to a new holiday gift guide from The shopping deals site took a look at more than 1.5 million deals from 25,000 retailers across the U.S. to figure out the best time to buy specific items. Some of the days says to make note of on your calendar are obvious while others are a little less so. Whether you're a practiced hand at holiday gift shopping or need a few reminders, here's a breakdown of the days you're most likely to find deals on PCs, tablets, HDTVs, set-top boxes, and computer accessories.

Thanksgiving Day

The first five deals days should be pretty obvious to anyone familiar with the basic schedule for holiday deals. Electronics deals start online on Thanksgiving Day, which is historically a more popular day for online buying than Black Friday. In 2011, 176 million unique visitors checked out deals on more than 500 retail websites during Thanksgiving, an increase of 9 percent over 2010, according to Experian Hitwise.

This year, online Thanksgiving buying may be just as popular. In its Black Friday preview ad released in November, Best Buy said it would offer a number of online-only deals on Thanksgiving Day. Some of the items slated for the deals include a 17.3-inch Toshiba Satellite Windows 8 laptop, an LG 3D Blu-ray player with built-in Wi-Fi, and a Canon EOS Digital Rebel T3 12.2-megapixel camera.

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Black Friday

Starting at midnight on Friday, the holiday shopping season officially begins with midnight madness sales at many major retailers. These are the days to find doorbuster deals on all kinds of items at stores such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy. The problem with doorbusters is that they are usually available in limited quantities. So if there's something you really want at a doorbuster sale, it's best to line up early.

November 24-25, Thanksgiving weekend

Black Friday isn't just for Fridays anymore, and depending on the retailer, the traditional one-day sale has morphed into a weekend or weeklong event. If you couldn't find deals on Black Friday, then check out what kind of deals are available at your local mall and big box retailers over the weekend. You should be able to find many similar deals, not including the doorbusters, that were available on Black Friday.

November 26, Cyber Monday

The final electronics deals day of November is of course Cyber Monday, which is considered the beginning of the online holiday shopping season. Online retailers and major retail websites will be offering all kinds of cheap deals on electronics items.

December 14-17

Free Shipping Day for 2012 is Monday, December 17. The 17th and the three days leading up to it will be a great time to look for electronics deals, says. If you're not familiar with Free Shipping Day, this is the last day you can take advantage of online free shipping deals and still get your items in time for Christmas. In the days leading up to the shipping extravaganza, many retailers will be dropping prices to convince buyers to pony up to the online cash register one last time before the gift-giving season ends.

When not to expect deals

While some retailers may be claiming to offer deals right now, electronics buyers will want to wait until Black Friday through Cyber Monday. When we get into December, you may find deals on any day, but says sales are likely to dry up between Sunday, December 9 and Thursday, December 13.

So now you know when to shop, but if you don't where to start or what to look for then check back beginning Monday, November 19 when we preview the best Black Friday and holiday shopping deals on electronics for 2012.

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