As the annual holiday shopping bonanza gets closer, businesses are beginning to announce their plans and promotions. Mega-retailer Wal-Mart rolled out its Black Friday plans today via Facebook and, reports Hayley Tsukayama:

Really early birds can get in on the deals for toys, home and apparel starting at 1o p.m. Thanksgiving Day — presumably fighting for deals will help you work off the stuffing. “Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we’re going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer for the United States, in a statement.

Electronics deals will switch on at midnight Black Friday and general deals will continue from 8 a.m. Nov. 25 through the weekend.

Some of the better deals listed in the Friday circular include an Xbox 360 4GB model with Kinect for $199.96, which also includes a $50 gift certificate, or a bundle that will add a $100 Wal-Mart gift card with any smartphone with a contract — excluding the iPhone.

But will the traditional models of price-slashing and extended store hours pay off? Blogger Dominic Basulto says maybe not, thanks to the growing popularity of daily deals Web sites:

Until the popularity of these daily deal sites, retailers were able to stomach steep discounts for one day a year during the holiday season, since these amazing bargains were essentially loss-leaders — they got people through the door to shop for regular-priced items after they finished scooping up $99 big-screen TV sets. The deals were so attractive and rare that people lined up in a cold parking lot at 4 a.m. to take part.

But it looks like those days are coming to an end.

This, like most developments of this nature, can be traced back to psychology. Behavioral economists must be champing at the bit for the chance to measure how people are changing their pricing expectations. Just as expectations of future inflation or future deflation impact our purchasing decisions today, so should expectations of future price cuts. Why crawl out of bed at 3:00 a.m. on Black Friday when you know that better deals are available every day of the holiday shopping season — at least in theory?

No matter when you do your holiday shopping, Hayley Tsukayama writes that its critical to be vigilant about protecting your financial information. She asked LifeLock chairman and CEO Todd Davis why are the holidays such a vulnerable time for this sort of crime. He said:

Your credit card companies have an algorithm in place to detect fraud based on what works for you and how you shop. They look for unusual patterns, so they know if they need to touch base and make sure there’s no fraud. But they have to edit those algorithms during the holiday season because otherwise everything would grind to a halt. You may buy two or three iPods for gifts, or an iPad — purchases that would normally trigger these things. But at the holiday season, big purchases aren’t unusual. People are buying electronics, plasma TVs, gift cards...and criminals know that. They know that this is their best chance to go undetected, take your information and mon­etize it.

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