NEW YORK – Those door-busting deals that U.S. retailers are planning for the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend are already starting to appear online.
Numerous Web sites have cropped up in recent years that publish what they claim are copies of the newspaper ads retailers will run for Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving that marks the ultra-competitive launch of the holiday shopping season.
A visit to BlackFriday.info (http://www.blackfriday.info/) shows the scan of an Ace Hardware Black Friday ad, which was posted on September 15.
The ad includes a digital photo frame with 7-inch LCD display for $49.99, a portable 7-inch DVD player for $59.99 and a Black & Decker 120 piece drilling and screwdriving set for $9.99 after $15 mail-in rebate. The tool set is currently listed on Ace's Web site for $29.99.
The early start surprised even some of those Web sites whose job it is to track the ads.
An e-mail from Black Friday Ads sent on October 3 says it was "caught asleep at the wheel" by the early release of Ace's planned sales.
"The Ace Hardware advertisement marks the earliest Black Friday advertisement ever released, nearly 10 full weeks before Black Friday," BFads wrote on its Web site. (http://www.bfads.net/)
Ace Hardware spokesman Bryan Tapella said the ads online appeared to be "versions" of its ads. But he cautioned that consumers should realize some of the items in those ads could change over time.
The early ads come as retailers gear up for a holiday season that is expected to be challenged by the deteriorating housing market, credit crunch and higher food and fuel costs.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) has already announced its first holiday price cuts, saying it would slash prices on select hot toys every week in October.