There was a time when Black Friday stood alone on the shopping calendar.

It was the unofficial start to the holiday buying season and people took that very seriously. In recent years, however, that has faded. Some retailers start their Christmas season sales as soon as they take down their Halloween merchandise while others get started on Thanksgiving itself.

In this segment of Industry Focus: Consumer Goods, Motley Fool analyst Vincent Shen is joined by Fool contributor Daniel Kline to explain why Black Friday has changed. The two talk about how the day is as important as ever and exactly how many people are set to shop on the big day. You will also learn what Kline plans to buy for himself this holiday season and how to prepare to actually save money.

A full transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on Nov. 22, 2016.

Dan Kline: Black Friday is not quite as big as it once was, but it's still absolutely enormous. The season itself is spreading out. You've been able to get Black Friday deals pretty much since Halloween ended. But a large percentage, above 21% of people who are going to shop, are still going to shop on Thanksgiving, and leading into Black Friday, that number is going to almost double. So it's still a giant deal. About 45% of Americans will shop on Black Friday itself, and 60% will shop between Thanksgiving and Sunday.

Vincent Shen: With that in mind, so many people in this country go out and purchase one thing or another, gifts or whatever it may be, looking for those deals, on Friday, on Cyber Monday, and throughout the next six weeks. My question to you is, is there anything on your list?

Kline: I'm going to buy some technology. I'm going to buy an Apple Watch, I'm going to buy a Google Home, and I'm going to pretend I'm buying them because you're making me so that I can actually understand them for future shows. But the reality is, most of those items are cheaper. Anything technology-related. Apple, you have to go to Apple vendors. Best Buy will have deals on Apple products. Apple might. They have in the past. But, in general, they will push you toward their vendors. ['s] products are all cheaper on Black Friday, sometimes dramatically so. And Google Home is $99, down from $129. So it's a great time to buy certain things. But that brings up the whole Black Friday idea -- this is not a day or weekend where you can just go to the stores or jump online and assume that everything you're buying is a good price. You still need to be diligent and check, because the reality is, there's a lot of models and a lot of things where they're saying they're 50% off and they're actually slightly different model numbers with less features, or they're playing games there. So this is still a time when you have to be very careful and comparison shop.

Shen: I've also seen some of the studies they do where they say as much as even one in four items that you see in a Black Friday circular, something like a promotion or an email, is actually the same as what they were offering as a doorbuster, or a very attractive item, in terms of discount, from the previous year. At the same time, some people have complained that companies will raise their prices so they can advertise a bigger percentage discount, but in actuality, you're really getting less of a deal there.