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Black Friday arriving early, on a Saturday

Black Friday, the frenzied day of holiday season shopping which traditionally begins after Thanksgiving, will launch this year before trick-or-treaters have had a chance to gobble up much of their Halloween candy.

The start of the holiday shopping season begins Saturday, when Amazon (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) will cut Halloween revelry short by kicking off holiday deals, moving up the usual shopping kickoff day by nearly a month.

They are among several retailers promoting Black Friday deals weeks before the actual event. While Amazon has typically started holiday deals at the beginning of November, this year will feature more products and more frequent deals, says spokeswoman Julie Law. Amazon will increase its deal of the day feature to include two daily deals from Nov. 1 until Dec. 22.

Amazon will also increase the frequency and number of products available as "lightning deals" from Nov. 1 until the official, post-Thanksgiving Black Friday weekend. Lightning deals are products that go on sale for a limited amount of time each day; closer to Black Friday, deals go up every 10 minutes, Law says.

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The deals will be for products in higher demand around the holidays, such as cookware, electronics and toys.

• Walmart will launch more than 20,000 "rollbacks" – reduced priced items – on Saturday, which is more than were available at this same time last year, says Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise. Stores typically have about 10,000 products on rollback during the rest of the year. Walmart.com will also give an early nod to Cyber Monday with a 24-hour deal event on Monday.

Walmart is also testing online price matching in some markets this holiday season.

• Office Depot (ODP) and OfficeMax will also start holiday deals this weekend, with savings on laptops and touchscreen computers from Nov. 2-15. The stores will also have Cyber Monday deals every Monday in November, the company said Thursday.

• This is the first year Sears (SHLD) will offer Black Friday deals two weeks early during a friends and family sale Nov. 9. Some apparel, appliances, tools and footwear will be available at a steeper "Black Friday" discount on top of the 5% to 15% discount that's part of the friends and family event, the company says.

While Black Friday may have been seen as the official start to the holiday season in the past decade, it's now been relegated to more of a fun social occasion as retailers push earlier sales to win over customers, says Allison Paul, head of U.S. retail and distribution at consulting firm Deloitte.

As online and mobile shopping become both more accessible and convenient, the significance of Black Friday will continue to diminish, she says.

"For the investment you have to make in time and basic hardship, the value equation is not there for everybody," Paul says. "There's no getting around the fact that Black Friday and some of those other days — it's a madhouse."

Luis Torres and his daughter Stephanie, from Chicago, Luis Torres and his daughter Stephanie, from Chicago, search for more deals after picking up a 50 inch television during the doorbuster sales at Kmart's Addison St. store on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 in Chicago, Ill.(Photo: John Konstantaras, AP Images for Kmart)

Deloitte's holiday shopping survey of about 5,000 consumers, out this week, found that just 9% plan to shop Black Friday and that most plan to shop in December or other days in November.

Paul also says retailers are probably "hedging their bets" against potentially bad weather in December by spreading bigger and better sales throughout the season. Last year, shoppers were likely deterred, and store sales suffered, by major storms in the Midwest and Northeast over two of the weekends leading up to Christmas, she says.

In other holiday shopping news, Kohl's followed Macy's lead and announced Thursday it will open two hours earlier on Thanksgiving, at 6 p.m.

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