Black Friday Deals Already in Stores?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Many retailers are preempting the Black Friday 2009 deals that traditionally arrive over Thanksgiving weekend and are desperately rolling out their Christmas specials in advance.

Even before Halloween, I started seeing Christmas decorations and prices appearing in stores. Sears (Stock Quote: SHLD) may well have been the first when it launched into its "Black Friday Now" campaign that started in October.

The Internet is now abuzz with blog reports about early Black Friday deals being offered by Best Buy (Stock Quote: BBY), Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT), CVS (Stock Quote: CVS) and others. Target (Stock Quote: TGT) even created a Black Friday preview page on its Web site.

It's too much, too soon. Such blatant desperation and commercialization undermines the holiday spirit and the excitement that is supposed to start stirring after a big Thanksgiving with friends and family.

As a harbinger of an economic recovery, the retail sector is not showing much confidence. It's another sign that despite investor optimism that pushed the Dow comfortably back above the 10K mark, consumer pessimism is proving harder to overcome.

Despite the slight reduction in new claims for unemployment benefits reported yesterday, there are just too many Americans out of work. The 10.2% jobless rate reported for October is a level we haven't seen in 26 years.

In this environment, discounters rule. But even low-price leaders such as Wal-Mart and Kohl's (Stock Quote: KSS) are finding it necessary to go even lower. Both stores indicated this week that they plan aggressive discounting over the holiday shopping season.

The price pressure and early start to the traditional Black Friday discounts suggests that retail margins will continue to erode. About the only good news is that we don't need to worry much about inflation.

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