Knowing consumers are going to be tighter with the buck than usual because of skittishness over the economy, "brick and mortar" stores, as well as Web sites, are rolling out deals now that they'd ordinarily hold off on until the day after Thanksgiving -- traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season and busiest shopping day of the year.
So, according to AOL Consumer Adviser Regina Lewis, it may well pay to do your holiday shopping early, as retailers lower prices ahead of time. What's more, says Lewis, many of these stores will be willing to match or beat competitors' prices.
Will these be the same deals we'll be seeing on Black Friday? Patience is a virtue, Lewis says, but the holidays are an exception. There's a fixed deadline, and you run the risk of not getting what you're looking for in a climate in which inventory is more tightly managed. If ever there was a year to make a list and check it twice, maybe three, four, five times, this is it. If the item is on your list and the promotion is of significant value (which you could learn via comparison shopping), go for it.
Overall, Lewis says, many of the savings to be realized will probably be less about timing and about "trading down" and "paring down" your list whenever you buy.
Lewis steered viewers in the direction of some great discounts from major retailers, on The Early Show's Saturday Edition:
Toys R Us
They're experts when it comes to forecasting trends in toys, and they have a comprehensive assortment.
Among the offerings:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Twilight from LEGO Systems, Inc
Monopoly Star Wars: The Clone Wars Edition
Star Wars: Legacy Collection Millennium Falcon™ from Hasbro
Spike the Ultra Dinosaur
Lewis' Toys R Us Top Deal Pick:
Zillions Touch Screen ATM, from Summi: A sophisticated toy from one of their trends: "Savvy Savers," a sign of the times: Kids will enjoy learning how to manage their money with this realistic, pink mini-version of a touch screen ATM, available exclusively in pink at Toys R Us. This hip new take on the classic piggy bank is equipped with advanced touch-screen technology that enables kids to access their "accounts" with a personalized PIN number. The ATM is programmed to distinguish real money with its bill-reading and coin recognition system, helping young penny-savers track their earnings.
Percent Off: Almost 30% off
Available at Toys R Us stores and online at www.toysrus.com
Wal-Mart, which accounts for more than a-quarter of U.S. toy sales, sent a clear message earlier this month that it doesn't plan to be undersold when it announced ten well-known toys, including some Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels car sets, for $10. (Source: Charleston Gazette-West Virginia, October 12, 2008).
Wal-Mart says one big trend this year will be "social gaming" at-home family entertainment, and is offering great prices on mind-teasing brain games for the whole family. Also, expect to find great prices in the world of music, such as on CDs.
Among the offerings:
Littlest Pet Shop VIP
Big Brain Academy (Wii)
AC/DC new "Black Ice" CD album
Lewis' Wal-Mart Top Deal Pick:
Hot Wheels Beast Bash Playset: Launch your car at this raging creature as he smashes his fist onto the road, knocking down everything in sight. Avoid his powerful claw as you speed through the city, or you'll get scooped up and lifted high above the streets. Hit the beast in the right spot, and you'll take him out. The beast can talk and will taunt you with menacing lines & ferocious growls.
Percent Off: Almost 50% off
All of these toys are available at local Wal-Mart stores. A list of stores is available at www.walmart.com.
Practical gifts and affordable pleasures are the trends this year.
Sears will offer alluring prices on its Craftsman line of tools to bring in shoppers early in the day. Expect in-store sales to be complimented with several online only deals. Sears is known as the leader in this realm of tools, and practical gifts are a trend in tough economic times, especially as people think of gifts with staying power/utility/value.
Lewis' Top Deal Sears Pick:
Craftsman Combo Kit
Percent Off: Almost 15% off
All are available on Sears.com and at your local Sears store.
Due to moves Amazon.com made last year, Lewis says she wouldn't be surprised to see it beat other retailers' prices in the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday. Amazon will use free or cheap shipping and discounts across the board to beat out other online retailers this year.
Right now, shoppers who visit Amazon.com will find aggressively priced HDTVs and sports and outdoor items. Many come with free shipping. With an annual Amazon Prime membership for $79, shoppers can get free two-day shipping on millions of in-stock items, and upgrades to One-Day (Overnight) Shipping for just $3.99 per item. Shoppers should stop by the Amazon.com Gold Box page (amazon.com/gold-box) daily. That's where they can find all of Amazon's best deals in one place.
Mongoose 20-Inch Gravity Games BMX Freestyle Bike
Adidas UEFA EURO 2008 Repliue Soccer Ball
Samsung Touch Of Color T220HD 22-inch LCD HDTV Monitor
Regina's Amazon Top Deal Pick:
FOLO: What's your pick for the Top Deal?
E 300 Scooter: A cool electric scooter with super-size deck and frame for riders of all sizes, it reaches speeds of up to 15 mph, thanks to a high-performance, chain-driven motor. It has extra-wide, 10-inch pneumatic tires and super-quiet motor deliver smooth ride. A twist-grip throttle offers variable speed acceleration; includes charger and tools. Gives 45 minutes of drive time per charge; some assembly required; 90-day warranty
Percent Off: Almost a 30% savings