(NBC NEWS) -- One of the busiest and most important shopping days of the year is coming up, but savvy shoppers won't be the mall.
Three weeks from now is the much-heralded Black Friday shopping day, the official start of the Christmas shopping season where everything will be touted as the deal of the year, but is that really the case?
"Black Friday is still an event, and it probably always will be a holiday event," says Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs.com, "but that's really not where you get the best deals."
Huffman wrote recently that retailers are jumping the gun on Christmas sales this year, especially because of the shortened shopping season.
"There's fewer shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas, they have to sell quickly and get consumers now," he explains.
Retailers like Walmart are luring customers with deals they'd normally find only on the day after Thanksgiving.
Huffman also says there's a sense of urgency among brick and mortar stores who look to lose even more market share this year to online shoppers.
Some stores are so nervous this year that they're starting Black Friday by opening on Thanksgiving Day.