thSome people think Black Friday is fading away. Me, I think it’s simply spreading out.

Gray Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are on the way whether you like it or not — and you can bet that Saturday and Sunday will have their own forms of deal-mongering, too.

Don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday? Prefer to buy locally? Do what works for you. But this week’s giveaway is designed to provide a little help for shoppers of all stripes, plus a little entertainment afterwards.

Up for grabs are:

read more

Gifts © by www.metaphoricalplatypus.com

You don’t have to use them on Black Friday, of course. Use them on Post-Turkey Thursday or Cyber Monday. Or just hoard them until you see something you want to buy.

read more

Telephone © by plenty.r.

Planning to shop online between Black Friday – which is increasingly more of a Post-Turkey Thursday – and Cyber Monday? A company called STELLAService has determined that the merchants with the shortest phone-support hold times are Nordstrom.com (18 seconds), Overstock.com (44 seconds), LLBean.com (46 seconds), Zappos.com (1 minute, 9 seconds) and Target.com (1 minute, 18 seconds).

That information is based on the 2011 shopping season. I bet it’ll be just as good this year, since retailers are scrambling to stand out among the din of the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

And if you’re buying from a place that leaves you languishing on hold for lonnnnng minutes? Here are six things to do while you wait:

read more