NEW YORK - Thanksgiving could be the best day to shop all year.
An analysis of sales data and store circulars by two research firms contradicts conventional wisdom that Black Friday is when shoppers can get the most and biggest sales of the year.
Turns out, shoppers will find more discounted items in stores that are open on Thanksgiving. For example, there are a total of 86 laptops and tablets deeply discounted as door buster deals at Best Buy, Wal-Mart and other stores on the holiday compared with just nine on Black Friday, according to an analysis of promotions for The Associated Press by researcher MarketTrack.
And on the Web, discounts will be deeper on the holiday. Online prices on Thanksgiving are expected to be about 24 percent cheaper compared with 23 percent on Black Friday and 20 percent on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, which tracks data on 4,500 retail web sites.
The data is the latest proof that retailers are slowly redefining the Black Friday tradition. It's been the biggest shopping day of the year for years, mostly because it's traditionally when retailers pull out their best sales events. But in the last few years, retailers such as the Gap, Target and Toys R Us have started opening their stores and offering holiday discounts on Thanksgiving to better compete with online rivals.
"I was surprised, but it really shifted one day," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe.
Most big retailers acknowledge they're starting to offer deals on Thanksgiving that previously were reserved for Black Friday.
"Naturally, more of the deals are being pulled into Thursday because our stores are open," said Jeff Haydock, a spokesman at Best Buy.
Brian Hanover, a spokesman at Sears, which is opening at 6 p.m. Thursday, also said Thanksgiving specials spill into Black Friday. But the quantities for the 1,000 door busters are limited. They include Nordic Track treadmills for $699.99, or an $800 discount, and a 36 percent savings on a Whirlpool laundry machine, regularly priced at $549.99.
"It probably behooves the customer to shop earlier on Thanksgiving," he saod.
For its part, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, said it's spreading out discounts online and in the store. But Gregorski of MarketTrack said it's "evident" in Wal-Mart's circular that "the best deals are on Thanksgiving."
To be sure, for its two sales events on Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart devotes 36 pages of its circular to discounted TVs, computers and other items. On Black Friday? Wal-Mart has four pages of deals.