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Why You May Want to Think Twice About Black Friday Shopping This Year

We all think of Black Friday as the best day of the year for deals. We get up at the crack of dawn (or even stay up all night), line up outside of malls, gift lists in our gloved hands. But this year, you might want to think twice before entering the fray, according to a new study released by the financial wellness company NerdWallet.

According to the study, which examined the Black Friday circulars from 21 major national retailers, 95% of stores plan to repeat identical deals from last year. That's right—you're going to be seeing a lot of the same items you've seen before, at the same prices. One store had 80 deals in 2015 that are identical to what it offered in 2014!

Another thing to watch out for with Black Friday sales: deceptive discounts. According to the study, some retailers mark up the listed "original" price, to make the discount appear larger. But it may be the same as or even more than what you would have paid at Veterans Day or other sales earlier in the month, so do your homework. If something on your list is on sale, it may be smart to buy it now rather than wait for the Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

It's not all bad news, though. According to personal finance expert and NerdWallet reporter Farnoosh Torabi, there are still some items worth buying on Black Friday. This includes household appliances and some electronics (like midrange TVs). Discount shopping site RetailMeNot agrees—according to their data, computers and electronics during Black Friday week (November 23–29) tend to be discounted as much as 52%.

Torabi advises avoiding bedding, toys (unless you're after a hot item that's likely to sell out) and winter coats—you'll find better deals on those later in the holiday shopping season. Plus, many Black Friday deals will also be online, so you can still get your shopping fix without having to brave the crowds.

For those who can't imagine a Thanksgiving weekend without Black Friday shopping, never fear—price protection services are on your side. Many credit cards offer price protection, so if the price on an item drops within 7 to 14 days of your purchase, you can get a refund for the difference. Look at your card policy, and save your receipts. You'll also want to look for coupons and discounts ahead of time from your favorite sites and apps. Bottom line: be your normal smart-shopping self, and never assume that prices are better just because of the holiday.