Retailers jump-start holiday season deals

| Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

Retailers are wasting no time this holiday season showcasing great deals, long before Black Friday.

Walmart.com offered a 42-inch JVC TV for $300 on Nov. 1. Banana Republic and Pottery Barn discounted virtually their entire non-clearance inventory 15 to 40 percent in October. And last week Target offered an unprecedented $200 credit on any used, functioning iPad with a new iPad purchase.

The early bargains are partly a reflection of the uncertain economy, as well as a compressed shopping season between this year's late Thanksgiving and Christmas. But they also show how retailers are working harder to get shoppers' attention in an age of intensifying online competition.

“Every year the promotions start earlier and get more sensational,” said Sean Naughton, an analyst for Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis.

Some attribute the early specials to consumer sentiment sliding in October to its lowest since the end of last year, according to a University of Michigan survey.

Others point to reasons other than economics. Americans are procrastinating less, according to the National Retail Federation. About 22 percent of U.S. consumers say they start their holiday shopping in October, and the number who expect to finish their shopping in November is 5 percentage points higher than last year.

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