(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 Apple's ( AAPL) 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.