Retail experts advise consumers to buy early

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Strategy for Black Friday shopping may be important "this" year, more than ever, and it's not necessarily due to large crowds or bargain prices.

You may be looking at the ads and thinking of those crowds and deciding to sleep in Friday, but retail experts say think twice before you pass those door-buster sales up.

Retailers are promising lower inventory levels this year because they were left holding unwanted merchandise last year in the recession.

That means if you have a specific brand name or model of toy, electronic or sweater in mind, it may be worth it to fight the crowds and get your hands on the limited stock.

"If you know what you want, go get it now," said Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Crawford. "That's what all the retailers are saying. They're not gonna stock extra this year because they don't wanna be left hanging with it."

Shoppers saw eye-popping savings of up to 70% late in December 2008 because retailers had ordered their supplies before the recession hit.

That alone  cost them billions in profits last year, and stores are vowing not to repeat that mistake this year, a strategy the BBJ says may actually help.

"In some cases undersupply might be better because consumers often like to buy things they don't think they can have," said Birmingham Business Journal reporter Ty West. "So maybe if things are more hard to come by, people will be willing to spend a little more, get out a little earlier."

"I can't compare our deals this year to last year," said Old Navy's regional manager Kimberly Horton. "What I can tell you is we have amazing product in our stores for great deals."

At the Old Navy store in Homewood, the store's manager is promising that at least where clothes are concerned, there's still plenty to choose from.

"We have plenty of product to sustain us through this shopping season," Horton said. "We have a lot of great deals throughout the store on the things people are looking for."

Old Navy will reopen at 3am Friday morning, Wal-Mart is slated to open its bargain deals at 5am.