MINNEAPOLIS -- There are just 53 days left until Christmas and big retailers are already rolling out holiday deals like price-matching and layaway.

Still, it may take more than that to get shoppers in the door. The National Retail Federation says it expects only a 2.8 percent increase in holiday sales this year. The lackluster outlook has retailers fighting for your money.

Dave Brennan, co-director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence at the University of St. Thomas, said the race between retailers will begin starting now through Thanksgiving.

To get the best deal, Brennan suggests shoppers make a list and budget, prioritize it and then watch for those deals because there will be sales, probably later than sooner.

"What we've seen is there's a steady stream of promotion going on right now. Nothing huge or anything else in this particular time but I suspect things will get a little bit fired up around Thanksgiving time," he said.

Black Friday will continue to be a big player this holiday,with more and more stores opening up earlier. But be careful. There are 14 million Americans who still have debt from last year's holiday season, according to a recent Consumer Reports poll.