(Black Friday deals article updated with new Borders promotions.)NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Retailers are going punch-for-punch this holiday season, trying to one-up each other with discounts ahead of the Black Friday rush.
But will these deep discounts, Black Friday ad "leaks" and offers of free-shipping really woo customers and boost the top line?
While the goal is to capture consumers' dollars before their holiday budget runs out, the question is, are these deals actually desensitizing shoppers?
On the one hand, retailers have spent the past year unintentionally "training" shoppers to hold out for the best deals. Now, they are expecting consumers to open their wallets earlier. But shoppers are savvy, and most realize these sales (and potentially some even bigger deals) will still be there the closer it gets to Christmas.
The biggest problem is that there isn't enough newness out there (think Tickle Me Elmo and Nintendo Wii) to entice shoppers, so retailers need to find other ways to drum-up excitement, says Craig Johnson, president at Customer Growth Partners.
And those items that are considered must-haves, like
iPad, are being sold everywhere, reducing the normal level of frenzy that ensues post-Black Friday.
Overall, holiday sales are expected to rise 2.3% to $447.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
For Black Friday, IBISWorld estimates sales will grow 1.9% from last year, to $11.68 billion. The weekend following Thanksgiving, is expected to generate $41.7 billion in sales, a 3.4% jump from Black Friday weekend in 2009.
Here's a look at retailers that are currently offering pre-Black Friday sales and self-inflicting hype for the Black Friday weekend.
is looking to be the leader in price when it comes to e-readers this holiday season.
The book superstore said it will sell e-readers for as low as $89.99 during Black Friday weekend. It's Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro is priced at $89.99, a $30 discount. The Kobo e-reader is marked down to $99.99 from $129.99 and its Kobo wireless is $129.99 for Borders' rewards members only. This deal will run from Nov. 24 through Nov. 28.
Other discounts include 50%-off coupons, select DVDs for $4.99 and Blue-ray movies priced as low as $7.99 and 50% off select video games.
On Thanksgiving Day consumers can shop online and receive 25% off most items.
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
will be offering promotions all this week leading up to Black Friday. Deals will include up to 50% off select popular books, movies and toys, 25% off a Nook accessory with the purchase of a matte screen film kit and 20% off all items on its Harry Potter table.
The book retailer will also be giving away a one-year membership ($25 value) to the first 25 customers who make a $50 purchase in participating stores on Black Friday.
Barnes & Noble will also be hosting Cyber Monday events on Nov. 29, which include free shipping on all orders and 25% off one item for members.
isn't limiting its deals to Black Friday weekend. The Internet retailer will also be offering 25 days of deals throughout the holiday season starting at 6 a.m. on Nov. 26 and running until Dec. 20.
The company has also launched some new tools to make shopping easier this holiday season, including Deal Finder, which shows shoppers where eBay has the lowest price on the Internet for movies, video games, music, books and electronics. It compares current prices on eBay.com with the lowest prices on top retail sites such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy.
eBay also rolled out a gift card mall, which has gift cards to more than 30 retailers, and free shipping on about 30 million items.
launched its Black Friday deals page on Monday, a centralized location to find door-buster deals and "Lightning" events.
The page will be active until Black Friday weekend, and all items on the page are eligible for free shipping.
"We see more people choosing to shop online on Black Friday so we're providing customers killer deals now through Cyber Monday, and we're working hard to meet or beat the lowest prices out there," said Paul Ryder, vice president of Electronics for Amazon.
Deals on the Black Friday page include: "The Blind Side" DVD for $3.99, Flip MinoHD Video Camera for $109.99 from $229.99, and PlayStation 3 160 GB Family Bundle with two free games for $299.99 from $369.99.
Like rivals Wal-Mart and Target, Amazon has been running its own pre-Black Friday sales throughout the month. Through its "Gold Box" section, it offered a 48-hour sales on HDTVs and video.
Amazon is also looking to be a leader in toys, taking 30% off hot items, including Toys Story 3 DVD, FurReal GoGo My Walkin' Pup, and Scrabble Flash Cubes game.
is taking its Black Friday price cuts one step further, promising to match competitors' ads on Nov. 26
The discount giant said that all shoppers need to do is bring in competitors' ads and the store will match the price of any identical product right at the register.
Wal-Mart has been attempting to woo shoppers before the Black Friday rush, offering discounts and promotions throughout November. So far, the No. 1 retailer has slashed prices on flat-panel televisions and offered other electronic deals courtesy of its "The Amazing Walmart Electronic Event."
Wal-Mart is also hoping to beat out rivals with free shipping on nearly 60,000 items online. There is, additionally, no minimum purchase required to snag the free-shipping deal. The offer, which includes most electronics, jewelry and toys, will run through Dec. 20.
Wal-Mart also introduced its first 52-page toy catalog, and further cut prices on toys it predicts will be big sellers this holiday season.
On Black Friday, itself, Wal-Mart will open its doors at midnight for its "Open House." In the wee hours it will offer deals on popular toys, apparel and home goods. Discounts will include: Nintendo Wii for $199 with $50 Wal-Mart gift card, Zhu Zhu Pets for $4 and Wrangler jeans for $9.
At 5 a.m. its electronics event will kick off, with huge discounts on HDTVs, laptops, gaming systems and cameras. Wal-Mart will be offering a 15.6" HP laptop for $298, the Kodak C183 Digital Camera for $59 and the Sansui 19" LCD HDTV for $98.
Wal-Mart said shoppers can receive pricing updates via its Facebook page or on its Web site.
Black Friday is even for pets.
announced that it will be offering more than 2,000 discounts on products for pets and pets' parents the day after Thanksgiving.
The retailer has even dedicated an aisles for shoppers to chose a present for their pet.
As part of the promotion, PetSmart is offering 50% off all pet holiday products, including toys, apparel and treats, as well as a 20% discount on all Martha Stewart pet products.
is trying to change consumers' perception that it is not a Black Friday destination. The retailer said that it will open its doors at 6 a.m., offering deals on popular electronics.
Promotions will include a $29 Cannon all-in-one printer from $79.99, an Olympus Digital Camera Bundle for $89.99, marked down from $129.99, and a Magellan 4.7-inch GPS for $99.99 from $189.99.
Office Depot has created a special Web site to showcase its Top 30 Smart Gifts List. Shoppers can also browse this site and make purchases on their iPhones using the "Top 30 Smart Gift" application.
released its Black Friday sales data on Thursday, announcing it will open its doors at 4 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving.
That morning the department store will offer more than 300 door-buster promotions, all of which can be viewed on its Web site. J.C. Penney will also offer additional sales from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Nov. 26.
So far, J.C. Penney has already held several pre-Black Friday sales events in November. The company started on Nov. 6 with the "Biggest Sale of Them All," offering 60% off select items before 1 p.m., and held a one-day sales on Nov. 17. Its next event will be its "Huge Sale" on Nov. 20, followed on Nov. 24 by its "Day Before Thanksgiving Sale."
is joining the free-shipping war.
The electronics retailer says the promotion, which will run through Dec. 21, includes hundreds of thousands of items, like CDs and DVDs, as well as video games and gaming accessories. But the free-shipping deal does exclude some popular gifts like Apple's iPad, video game consoles, and major appliances.
Best Buy has also been trying to compete with other big-box retailers with its pre-Black Friday sales. Last weekend its cut prices on brands like BlackBerry, HP, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sony, Insignia, HP and Maytag.
The electronics retailer held a similar sale at the beginning of the month, slashing prices on an eMachines laptop with AMD V-Series CPU for $280, undercutting Wal-Mart's price on a similar laptop by $8. Best Buy is also sold selling Sony's PSP Go for $150 from $199, HTC's Droid for $100 (half the original price) and Samsung's BDC-5500 Blu-ray player for $120 from $180.
"It's all about the customer this year, and we're listening to what they want," Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president of U.S. marketing, said in a statement.
has confirmed that it will have its earliest opening ever this Black Friday, opening its doors at 3 a.m. on Nov. 26.
The value-priced department store will offer more than 400 door-buster promotions that morning, which will run until 1 p.m. Deals include: 50% off all toys, the Sharper Image Literati eBook reader for $99.99 (after $30 mail-in rebate) from $249.99, and Apt. 9 cashmere sweaters for $34.99 (down from $100).
Shoppers will be able to preview all Black Friday promotions starting on Nov. 21 on Kohl's Web site.
Meanwhile, many Kohl's promotions have been running throughout the month, including the "Secret Sale," lauching today, which features an additional 15% to 30% off everything in store and online.
Kohl's is hiring 40,000 temporary employees to deal with the holiday rush, a 21% increase from last year.
will offer free shipping for the first time this holiday season.
The department store will provide free shipping on all orders of $99 or more on its Web site from Nov. 18 through Dec. 20.
Starting at 4 a.m. on Black Friday, Macy's will offer discounts on everything from electronics to beauty items. Deals include: Literati E-Reader from Sharper Image for $99, Martha Stewart Collection Enamel Cast Iron 2.75qt Casserole for $19.99 and $99.99 Tommy Hilfiger Leather Jackets.
Macy's has already said it will hire 65,000 seasonal workers to deal with the holiday rush.
announced on Wednesday yet another round of price cuts, this time on its Web site. Starting this month, the discounter will celebrate "Mega Merry Mondays" with deals on 17 hot items, and "Total Toy Tuesdays," with discounts on five favorite toys.
Target will also offer free shipping when customers spend $50 or more from Nov. 21 through Dec. 11, and will host sales Thanksgiving day at Target.com that will feature 50% off electronics like cameras, televisions, Blu-ray players and video game consoles.
The company previously said it will be running a four-day sale in stores beginning Nov. 21, that will include up to 50% discounts on more than 170 gift items like toys, electronics and entertainment. It is also cutting prices on the iPod touch and offering two-for-one video games.
On Black Friday, Target will have 25 early-bird specials, compared with 11 last year. There are also rumors circulating that the retailer will be offering $3 appliances and 50% off clothes and toys on Black Friday, after a possible circular was leaked.
is attempting to compete with the big boys.
The department store, which is still struggling to return to a profit, is hoping to do so this holiday season, with several promotions.
Sears will open for the first time ever on Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. until noon, hoping to capture shoppers with appliance discounts. The retailer offered door-buster deals last weekend on flat-panel televisions, washer and dryer combos, cookwear and appliances.
It's Kmart stores also announced it is expanding its shipping offers on its Web site and providing free shipping on select purchases. The company also said customers can now buy items through the Kmart2go mobile web site or smart phone applications and select in-store pickup.
wants to be considered a go-to holiday destination, releasing sneak peeks into its Black Friday sales via Twitter and Facebook.
The office supply retailer will run its specials on Black Friday from 6 a.m. until noon on Black Friday, with an emphasis on electronics.
Some deals include: Kodak MD30 camera for $69.99 from $139.99, HP Laptop with Intel Celeron 900 Processor for $299.98 from $499.98 and 40% off office supplies.
Ahead of Black Friday, Staples will offer up to 50% off laptops, printers, cameras and other items, from Nov. 21 through Nov. 24.
isn't typically considered a holiday shopping destination, but discounts on appliance could make it a part of shoppers route on Black Friday.
The home improvement retailer already put itself on shoppers' radars last week, sending out an advance copy of its doorbuster ad via Facebook. Some of the deals include: a Shop-Vac 15-gallon 4.5HP Wet/Dry Vac for only $29 from $79.97 and a pre-lit Artificial Christmas tree with 400 lights for $38 instead of $96.
Besides a first-look at deals, Lowe's also gave away 5,000 coupons for up to 90% off select items, on the social networking site.
--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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