"Black Friday" Coming Early This Year

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"Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, is usually the Super Bowl of shopping - the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

But, in a sign of the tough economic times, retailers are advancing "Black Friday" as never before this year, with some sale starting as early as this weekend, says CBS MoneyWatch.com Editor in Chief Eric Schurenberg.

He told "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor and CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis where and when viewers could get a jump on their holiday shopping.

In general, Schurenberg says, early Black Friday sales will be "very similar to last year. The retailers are carefully husbanding their inventories. You're not gonna see sales drop off a cliff as you saw in 2008. So, you might see 25 percent discounts now through Black Friday, even up to the holidays themselves - but you're not going to see discounts getting much bigger than 35 percent. That means, if you want to get your shopping done ahead of time, go ahead. You might not get the rock-bottom price, but you'll be happy."

"All the big retailers," Schurenberg observed, "are doing something to advance the sales into November, (including) the biggest of all, Wal-Mart, (which is) concentrating on its toys, the Toyland, books, and that sale starts on the 7th through the 24th. Stops around Thanksgiving. Sears may be the first: It's already started and its sale goes through the end of the day today. It is called 'Black Friday Now.' Target starts the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Toys R Us is also doing a toys catalogue. That starts on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, as well. JCPenney has four single-day sales, including one they're calling the biggest sale day of all."

Will the deals be as good as the ones on the traditional Black Friday?

"Some of them will be," Schurenberg responded, "but it's selective. The real discounting doesn't start until the real Black Friday starts. So, just because something is called 'Black Friday Now' or 'The Black Friday Sale in Advance' doesn't mean it's necessarily a great price. So, do your research."

"About 40 percent of shoppers are saying they're going to do some of their shopping this holiday online," Schurenberg continued. "So, it's very important to those online retailers, too. Amazon.com has already started what it calls the 'Countdown to Black Friday,' which started yesterday." Among items Amazon has on sale: flat-screen TVs and other electronics. "Every Friday," Schurenberg says, "they're doing, you know, a different item for sale."

In addition, he says, "Staples(.com), as much as 50 percent off starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and Walmart.com, that sale starts early this month."