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Most consumers in the US will by now be stuffed with piles of turkey and lashings of booze, but retailers are banking on people's hunger and thirst for deals returning on Black Friday,

Apple sent an email earlier this week claiming it will host a "one day shopping event" tomorrow that starts at 3.00 Eastern time (00.00 Pacific, 8.00 GMT).

But one thing shoppers won't be able to load up on tomorrow - or indeed anytime before Christmas is the new iMac - the channel has no stock and will miss out on a potential sales bonanza.

"Apple is not even giving resellers the wholesale pricing yet," one of the vendor's channel partners said in the US this week.

"That means nobody is putting in orders and nobody is going to have them by Friday. Right now there is basically no way to put an order in for them," a sales exec at the Apple dealer stated.

Last month Apple CEO Tim Cook said the 21.5-inch models would ship in November and the 27-inch version in December. But he admitted availability would be constrained.

Michael Oh, CEO at Apple retailer Tech Superpowers, which has offices stateside and in the UK, said it has a shortage of iMacs.

"We don't have any of the old ones and the new ones still have not shipped," he told us.

He held out some hope that the Apple gear may arrive but added, "I do question their selection of this time of the year to do a complete switchover on a product where the new one would not be available for some time."

"Even if it was planned, I think it makes people wonder if the Mac supply chain is really as strong as the PC one - where you have many manufacturers who can fill the gaps if one is undergoing a supply constraint," he said.

Back in Blighty, a bunch of frustrated Apple dealers are bemoaning the lack of the machines, with no volumes expected to ship before January.

The exact reason for the delay is not known but a production glitch with the very thin screen is rumoured to be at fault.

Outside of Apple, bargain hunters not afraid of the dark can trot out to retailers tonight with Walmart and Sears among those opening their doors from midnight - in a move dubbed Grey Thursday.

As well as bricks and mortar retailers trying to whip folk into a buying frenzy, online firms are trying to muscle in on Black Friday too, and still have Cyber Monday to bank on after the weekend.

Amazon has totally ignored protocol to run promotions in the week before Black Friday on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some 50 million punters went online on Black Friday 2011 to spend $816m, a rise of 26 per cent on the previous year.

E-commerce sales in the US on the peak buying day last year bounced 26 per cent to $816m as 50 million punters went online.

This compares to $11.4bn offline, figures from ShopperTrak showed, up 6.6 per cent as footfall climbed 5.1 per cent on 2010 numbers.

After a diabolical year for many store retailers - typified by Best Buy - a day of frenetic consumer spending whether it be from tonight, tomorrow or Monday may help some keep the wolves from the door. ®

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