Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is the traditional start of big sales in holiday shopping. This year, some stores are getting a jump start. But are these pre-Black Friday sales real deals?

Everywhere you turn; in the mail, online, in the newspaper, you see ads about shopping specials.

It’s all part of a campaign by retailers to get you into the store and spend money now on your holiday gifts.

The deals are often too attractive to ignore, even if the traditional belief is that the best deals come right before Christmas.

Three weeks before Black Friday, one thing got Lisa Jacobs of Moon into the Gap at The Mall at Robinson.

“The Facebook special–free jeans,” she said. But, she was too late to get a pair.

Gap gave away 10,000 pairs of jeans that Friday morning to customers who posted that they were at Gap on their Facebook accounts.

Store manager Hunter Hissrich says retailers want customers to shop for Christmas gifts right now.

“With the economy and the way things are, we have to drive traffic. We have to make sales. Bottom line, we have to make money to keep us here and keep our jobs,” says Hissrich.

Sale prices are posted everywhere, but some hold out for what they think will be better prices after Black Friday.

“I can get better deals if I wait till the last minute than if I do it right away,” says Diane Quick of Coraopolis.

Some stores are doing everything to lure you in right now.

At Wal-Mart, a 42″ Vizio TV normally sells for $548. On Saturday, the price drops to $498 for as long as supplies last.

So, should holiday shoppers grab the good deals or hold out for better ones?

“In previous years, I would have said wait. But in this year, I’m saying hop on to it,” says Point Park University Business Professor Paige Beal.

Beal says with inventory down there is no guarantee that your favorite item will be available on Black Friday.

“If you want something that is popular, something that is likely to run out, get it now,” says Beal.

And shoppers seem to understand that message.

“The whole month of November, I hear they want to run the deals, to get people in and get shopping. I’m ready to spend my money,” says Lisa Jacobs.

Customers ready to spend money is exactly what retailers want to hear. The fact that prices for some products are good now does not mean they will be bad in December.

Most store managers said they simply do not know what the sales will look like on Black Friday and beyond.

But given that uncertainty, it could be risky waiting for something you really like that’s on sale today.

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