Retailers: Gobble Up Holiday Deals Now

Forget Black Friday. Or Black Thursday. Several retailers are already touting pre-Thanksgiving deals this week. Crunched by a shortened holiday calendar that leaves just four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, stores are pushing holiday deals earlier than ever. Amazon, Wal-Mart and appliance and electronics retailer H.H. Gregg have pre-Black Friday sales now. Target, Disney stores, Kmart and Sears are advertising deals that start this weekend.

Sears Holdings, which owns Kmart, says it's offering the earlier deals for customers' convenience.

"Sears Holdings made the decision to offer early deals and door-busters based, in part, on feedback from our Shop Your Way members, who sought more flexible holiday shopping times and eagerness to shop door-buster deals," executive vice president Imran Jooma said.

Wal-Mart is lowering prices on popular toys and electronics to match select Black Friday offers from Target, Toys R Us and Best Buy starting Friday.

In a world of constant discounting, retailers are stuck in a game of tit for tat trying to stay ahead of each other, says Ronald Goodstein, associate professor of marketing at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. He's doubtful retailers are going to generate more sales by offering earlier deals.

"All the Christmas season is going to be in the first week, and the rest of it is just going to drop off," he says. "It's a bunch of hype just to get people to take their actions sooner. I think the net effect is retail this year is going to be disappointing."

The holiday season is the biggest time of year for retailers. For some, it can account for 20% to 40% of annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

The federation projects that retailers will have a little more than $602 billion in holiday sales, a marginal increase over last year. Wal-Mart, the USA's largest retailer, says it expects...

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