Some of the largest, most prominent multichannel retailers in the United States are so eager to get the holiday shopping season started that they're kicking Black Friday off early this year.

Instead of opening their doors to crowds on Friday morning, many are opening as early as midnight, hoping to cash in on consumers itching to burn off calories with some post-turkey dinner shopping.

Not surprisingly, some believe retailers are going too far. And it's not hard to see why: midnight openings encourage shoppers to stay up late on a holiday if they want to grab the best days, and they will also cause some employees to cut their holiday time off short.

But a number of retailers, perhaps keen to appease everybody, are hedging their bets by launching online deals this coming Black Friday.

According to TechFlash, "Retailers such as Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy and Walmart are offering Black Friday deals online — one day early." And online retail giant is getting in on the act too. It's offering its own deals this week, greeting shoppers to its Black Friday page with the message, "You shouldn't have to stand in a long line to get a great deal."To prove its point, the company is already running a promotion that has dropped the price of all non-iPhone phones from Verizon, Sprint and AT&T to a penny.

But the question remains: will such moves pay off?

They could. As TechFlash notes, overall retail sales have grown at a relatively tepid pace since the 2008 global financial crisis, but growth in online retail sales has rebounded to double-digital rates.

By offering up deals to online shoppers early, retailers are clearly hoping to do whatever they can to ensure they're first in line to gobble up the cash consumers will be spending on holiday purchases this year.

That might be a necessary move but at the same time, it's hard not to think that, in the end, the winners of this year's holiday shopping battle will be the retailers who execute the best strategy between now and the end of December and not necessarily the retailers who burn all their fuel trying to get out of the gate the fastest this week.

Patricio Robles

Published 22 November, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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