Black Friday deals have begun

November 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
In this sour economy, anxious retailers are trying something new to get you to shop. Black Friday used to be a one-day sales event the day after Thanksgiving, but not this year -- the big sales have already started. One store opening on Thursday morning had a long line forming Wednesday night, full of shoppers ready to snag great deals.

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The 99 Cent store opens on Thursday at 8 a.m., but people started lining up at 1 p.m. the day before. They want to get some of these deals and start their holiday shopping early.

"They've got scooters for 99 cents for my nephew, or if someone gets out of line, I can get an iPod for my dad," says Hans Helgeson from San Jose, who plans to do his holiday shopping now.

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday still weeks away, consumers are already coming up with a holiday spending plan and retailers are loving it. It's no coincidence the 99 Cent Only store is opening on Thursday in San Jose.

"With the economy being as tight as it is, people want to make their dollar stretch as much as they can and what a great place to shop, to open right before the Christmas season," says Tony Vera, a 99 Cent Only regional manager.

According to the National Retail Federation, last year the average American spent $705 on holiday gifts; this year, they'll spend $683. That is a 3 percent drop.

"Consumers have a limited amount of time, they certainly have a limited amount of money as well for the holiday season, so they're going to be pretty selective," says Santa Clara University professor of marketing Dale Achabal, Ph.D.

And that's the reason for the aggressive and early retail promotions, says Achabal. Stores want to capture those holiday dollars as quickly as possible and not be left with too much inventory going into next year.

Target starting tempting customers in October by offering 50 percent off of certain toys. GottaDeal.com claims Target will sell some appliances for just $3 on Black Friday -- a tactic that seems to be working for consumers.

"Just to know things like that makes you want to come here, makes you want to shop more," says Joshuah Dillihunt from San Jose.

"I love sales, I always get stuff on sale," says Ashley Ladd from San Jose.

There will be three big selling categories this holiday season: toys, books, and electronics.

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