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Black Friday gimmicks start rolling in

First out of the gate is Sam's Club, which is offering free breakfast in all of its stores nationwide to shoppers who come for its early-bird specials.

By Parija B. Kavilanz, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With crucial holiday sales on the line, Sam's Club is laying it on thick this year, giving shoppers free breakfast on top of its Black Friday "doorbuster" deals.

No doubt, an ongoing housing market slump coupled with credit market woes have left many Americans with less discretionary income to shop.

As stores brace for the all-important November-December holiday shopping period, which accounts for as much as 50 percent of merchants' annual profit and sales, retailers are especially nervous about whether or not they'll be able to make their year-end financial targets.

Given that Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, sometimes sets the tone for the entire holiday sales rush, retailers will undoubtedly resort to all kinds of gimmicks to get crowds early into their stores and, more importantly, keep them there.

To that end, Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores (Charts, Fortune 500), said it will open stores at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving and roll out a free continental breakfast to shoppers in all of its locations nationwide until 9 a.m.

The retailer said this year consumers can also use their cellphone by texting "GO" to (sams1) to sign up to get a preview of its Black Friday sales beginning Nov. 19.

The National Retail Federation expects total 2007 holiday sales will increase 4 percent to $474.5 billion, or softer than last year's 4.6 percent growth.  Top of page