The holiday shopping season is getting an early start as Walmart announced its stores will open at 10 p.m. and revealed its deals on Thursday. Meanwhile, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Macy's, Kohl's and Target are reportedly embracing a midnight schedule.
Walmart is trying to get a leg up on its competitors by revealing its deals much earlier than it did last year on Nov. 22. The company said deals on toys, home items and clothing will start at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Electronics deals will start at midnight, including over $100 off an Xbox360 game console. Other deals will begin at 8 a.m. on Black Friday.
At Walmart.com, customers can sign up to receive an early preview of Black Friday deals by entering their email address to sign up. The mammoth store is also allowing shoppers to sign up through the company's Facebook page.
"The Christmas Price Guarantee does not cover local competitor's offers during the "Black Friday" day after Thanksgiving event," according to a spokesperson for Walmart. "However, our regular ad match policy will still be in effect that day."
Competitiveness in the retail sector intensifies every holiday season, though Target said it still plans to reveal its Black Friday deals the day before Thanksgiving. Holiday activity provides about 20 percent of retailers' annual sales every year.
Last week, Amazon launched its early Black Friday deals store for those looking for discounts on such products as cameras, video games and jewelry.
'When it comes to holiday gift shopping, there are three things customers want: low prices, items to be in-stock and ready to ship, and a convenient shopping experience," Amazon spokeswoman Sally Fouts said in a statement. "So in addition to our everyday low prices, customers will find exceptional deals in our Black Fridays deals store starting today all the way through Black Friday."
The online shopping destination, for example, has shaved more than $300 off a Polk Audio Theater System as part of its early Black Friday deals in electronics.
But before consumers get too excited about the kick off to the day after Thanksgiving, Dan de Grandpre, editor-in-chief of Dealnews, says the best deals are still to come.
"There are a lot of stores that are using the words 'Black Friday' now," de Grandpre told ABC News.com. "You will see a lot of stores using early 'Black Friday' and 'pre-Black Friday' sales but, the thing is, not all stores are doing deals as good as the deals they will offer on Black Friday."
Because of an anemic economy, many retailers are trying to lure customers as analysts predict an average holiday shopping season. According to the National Retail Federal, retail sales for 2011 are expected to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion.
"Retailers are optimistic that a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. "While businesses remain concerned over the viability of the economic recovery, there is no doubt that the retail industry is in a better position this year to handle consumer uncertainty than it was in 2008 and 2009."
In preparation for the 2011 shopping season, Macys, Kohls and Target are planning on opening their doors to black Friday customers at midnight. Target, which announced it would stay open from midnight to 11 p.m. on Black Friday, will also price-match items within seven days of purchase. Customers are asked to bring in their receipts and competitors' advertisements to receive a price adjustment.
DealNews is offering its predictions of the best Black Friday deals to come. The website considers the day one of the best to purchase HDTV, which will likely see a price drop of 15 to 20 percent.
Leading up to the big day, Dealnews compiled a list of "10 Ways Black Friday 2011 Will Be Different." Here are the first 5:
1. Fewer People Are Buying TVs
2. More Shoppers Will Use Mobile Devices
3. You Won't Be Shopping for Netbooks
4. There Won't Be Refurb Deals on the Latest iPhone
5. You Shouldn't Buy a Game Console This Year
While the doorbusters have yet to be announced, here's where to find Black Friday deals:
Deal News Black Friday
Black Friday 2011
Amazon Black Friday