Holiday deals come early amid dismal shopping forecast

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Nov. 1, the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, is upon us...

Let the price wars begin.

The 2013 holiday shopping season is expected to be the most heavily discounted in years as retailers compete for dwindling consumer budgets, according to some analysts.

Wal-Mart kicked off the season online a month early on Friday by offering seven "big deals" on items typically reserved for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Best Buy's website also donned a "Holiday Kickoff 2-day Sale" happening this weekend.

Just in time for November shoppers, NBC News says Target extended its price-match policy and expanded its "buy online, pick up in store" service to all U.S. stores.

Toys R Us got off to an even earlier start by offering a cash-back incentive and special access to day-after-Thanksgiving deals for purchases of certain toys by Halloween, NBC said.

Locally, a boutique of more than 35 Minnesota businesses will hold a special shopping event in Minneapolis Friday night.

Trying to out-price the competition and offer incentives early on is one attempt retailers are using to get ahead of what's predicted to be a less-lucrative shopping season.

Last week, eBay executives gave a disappointing shopping forecast with considerably low expectations for e-commerce. Morgan Stanley says the upcoming shopping season will be the worst since 2008.

Analysts point to low consumer confidence, which recently dipped to its lowest point since May.

Retailers are also feeling the pressure of a shorter shopping season -- the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year is six days shorter than in 2012.

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