Washington, D.C. - Mark down Dec. 26 as the second Black Friday of this wacky shopping season.
Except desperate retailers are making the deals even bigger.
Day-after-Christmas sales will rival those of the real Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that kicks off the shopping season and can put retailers into money-making territory for the year.
This year, whopping pre-Christmas sales have not done enough to sway shoppers to spend. They're awaiting deeper discounts, and retailers are promising them.
Especially to those who arrive early.
"People can come in from 7 a.m. to noon and they are going to find great deals," says Tom Aiello, a spokesman for Sears Holding, which owns Sears and Kmart. "It's like Black Friday."
The $300 billion retail industry is trying to stave off a record bad year. Industry sales will be flat or down.
"There's not a lot of time for retailers to make up for what's been lost," says Kathy Grannis, National Retail Federation spokeswoman.
•Sears will offer up to 75% off on electronics and 50% off on Craftsman tool storage chests. Kmart will add 40% off to clearance items, already marked down 30%.
•Toys R Us circulars in newspapers Thursday will bill the day after Christmas as the "biggest" after-holiday sale with deals including an $81.99 race car set for $19.99 and table games, originally $239.99, for $131.99.
•Crate & Barrel has savings of up to 70%.
•J.C. Penney stores open at 5:30 a.m. with twice as many door-buster deals as last year. Among the 100 deals: 70% off jewelry.
"People are saying, 'Why wouldn't I wait for another 30% off on already 50% markdowns,' " says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group.
Post-holiday sales usually account for 10% to 15% of the seasonal retail sales, but Cohen says the number will be higher as people cancel last-minute shopping for better deals on Friday.
But good deals for shoppers are bad for retailers, whose margins are already squeezed.
"It can help them move out their inventory, and if they can just break even, that's going to be good," analyst Jennifer Black says.
Shelly Baur of Kirkland, Wash., will give her husband clothes.
"The second present to my husband will be clothes shopping for the after-Christmas sales," she says.
In Ocala, Fla., Donna Ketterer and her husband are waiting for a deal on a video camera.
"We feel this is an item that will drop in price after Christmas," she says.
By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY
Contributing: Jayne O'Donnell