'Black Friday' Ads Leak Early Online

Shoppers can get a head start on sales the day after Thanksgiving thanks to some Web sites that get the info, sometimes surreptitiously, and leak it to the public.

Shopping on Black Friday is a yearly ritual for bargain-conscious consumers looking for hot items and good deals. The day earned its name because it's the big money day for retailers, a day when they typically go from losing money for the year to making a profit.

In the past, items planned to be on sale were not known to shoppers until the day before the sale. That's all changed in the last couple of years, thanks to some insiders who post info to an ever-growing group of Web sites that cater to bargain-hunters.

Shoppers line up the day before to be first in line to get items that are heavily in demand, but this year some things seem to have changed as some stores engage in Black Friday-like pricing weeks before that day.

Sites that get ad scans ahead of time are also running into retailers that are going through more measures to keep that information secure until the big day.

Some retailers open at midnight, allowing bargain-hunters to get a jump, but others, such as Wal-Mart, are pricing aggressively to lure in shoppers in what has been a slow shopping season so far for them.

Last year, seven Premium Outlets nationwide experimented by opening at midnight. It was so successful that 25 of the malls will take part this year.

"We'll have 54 stores open, and 54 out of 85 will make it worth your while," said Donna Christian, of Edinburgh Premium Outlets.

Storeowners said they expect lines to form outside the stores just hours after Thanksgiving dinner.

Wal-Mart has rolled out about 10,000 price cuts, with deep discounts on electronic items.

"Large retailers like Wal-Mart tend to consume most of the distribution channels. So, companies will order their products sooner and, if they're sitting around, they want to get rid of them," said Matt Will, a professor at the University of Indianapolis.

Experts said they expect holiday sales to increase 5 percent over last year, but retailers won't benefit much if they are forced to make significant cuts to profit margins.

More Info: Black Friday Ad Scans

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