Black Friday online deals? Log on Wednesday at midnight.

Black Friday deals in cyberspace won't wait for Friday. Online shoppers can find equally good prices just after midnight Wednesday.

Tim Hacker/East Valley Tribune/AP
Shoppers stroll through Chandler Fashion Square in Chandler, Ariz., Nov. 18. Black Friday will still lure plenty of shoppers to the mall, but online shoppers can get score some equally impressive deals by logging in during the wee morning hours of 'Black Thursday,' otherwise known as Thanksgiving Day.

History books may link Black Thursday to the start of the 1929 stock market crash. But for savvy shoppers, it's becoming the day to score some Black Friday deals before it's Black Friday.

Of course, it's also Thanksgiving Day. Spending it front of a computer screen is probably not what Norman Rockwell envisioned – or what your mother-in-law has in mind for you.

But maybe you can squeeze in family, friends, and turkey. That's because, if you're truly a dedicated online shopper, the best time to find deals is just after the stroke of midnight Wednesday.

"Every year, [the sales have] been moving earlier and earlier, and Thanksgiving and Black Friday are no exception," says Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing for GSI Commerce, an Internet commerce solutions company based in Philadelphia. "Roughly from Wednesday midnight through 2 a.m. [Thursday], all the deal sites are just atwitter."

One reason the deals are so good: Since many of the retailers' bricks-and-mortar stores are closed, their website staffs are free to offer whatever deals they want without worrying about undercutting their stores, Ms, Dias adds.

Several retailers have already previewed some of their online Black Thursday deals.

Radio Shack, for example, plans to offer a Motorola Clutch i465 texting cellphone for $80 and a Garmin Nüvi 1300 GPS receiver for $100, among many others.

Macy's website will also be active. Among its many deals: a sterling silver set of diamond jewelry (pendant, earrings, and bracelet) for $99 and a five-piece set of luggage for $50 (75 percent off the list price).

JCPenney is offering 65 percent off women's coats, 50 percent or more off comforter sets and quilts, and many other Black Friday deals.

For the first time in its history, Staples will be offering big online savings on Thanksgiving Day with up to 50 percent off on high-tech devices, including digital cameras, video monitors, and GPS systems.

Will Black Thursday steal the thunder from Black Friday? Probably not.

"We still believe that Thursday is that day, after everyone's belly is full of turkey, where they use that day" to look up sales online," says Brent Shelton, marketing spokesman for Fat Wallet, an online shopping resource based in Rockton, Ill. "Sure there's some purchasing that goes on that day. Our traffic is even higher on Thursday than Black Friday. But there's too much curiosity about Friday for everyone to pull the trigger."

So how do you shop a Black Thursday sale?

"If there's something that you really want, and it's a hot product, and you're pretty satisfied with the price, you're probably better off buying it," Mr. Shelton adds. Otherwise, wait. "If it's not a 'gotta have,' chances are that price is going to keep coming down," he adds.

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