Black Friday sales have started early. Way early.
Traditionally, retailers put out great deals on merchandise to lure in shoppers the Friday after Thanksgiving. Now, the first such sales are happening on the Friday before Halloween.
Amazon, for example, is offering big discounts on electronic gear on Oct. 29. Officially, it's the "Countdown to Black Friday," but the lure 'em in strategy is the same. The one-day-only 'Today's Deals' that Amazon has offered for years (in the gold treasure box) have been relabeled to encourage holiday traffic. To kick off the countdown, they're offering steep discounts on high-ticket items, like a 55" flat-screen for half price.
Deals cycling through this Friday, according to BFnet, a Black Friday ad-tracker, are: a Toshiba 55" 1080p LED HDTV with NetTV for $1,199; an Archos 5 500 GB Android Internet Tablet for $309.99; a Roku HD-XR Player for $69.99; and a Canon PIXMA MG6120 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One Printer for $139.99.
Sears is offering its own "Black Friday Now" sale, which kicks off Oct. 29. BFnet says that most of the items are "nothing more than a standard weekly advertisement." But it did spot a deeper discount on a Frigidaire 4.2-cubic foot Steam Washer and 7.0-cubic foot Steam Dryer for $1,179.88.
Black Friday merchandising doesn't have to be confined to one day of the week. In a Black Friday-esque move, Toys 'R' Us and Kmart will make the sale-priced toys in their Christmas toy catalogs available for purchase starting Sunday. (Most of the items still sell at normal price, BFnet warns.) Walmart launches its sale-priced toy catalog next Sunday.