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Major retailers have fired the start gun on a pre-Christmas sales war, with online shopping at the vanguard of efforts to lure price-savvy consumers.

Myer and Dick Smith were among dozens of big name retailers preparing to take part in Tuesday night’s Click Frenzy event, which is expected to attract up to one million bargain-hungry customers.

The 24-hour promotion, which copies America’s Cyber Monday sales, gets under way at 7pm and promises heavily discounted one-off deals for online shoppers.

Department store David Jones and tech giants Apple and Dell were among those who didn’t join the promotion - and all three launched their own rival sales on Tuesday.

David Jones started an online and in-store promotion at 9am, while Apple unveiled plans for a one-day sale on Friday.

Dell launched its Super Cyber Sale, which runs until Thursday.

Australian National Retailer’s Association (ANRA) chief executive Margy Osmond welcomed the discounting.

But she warned the nation’s retail sector to expect a distinctly average Christmas, even if the Reserve Bank rubber stamps a rate cut at its December 4 board meeting.

"I think it’s going to be an unremarkable Christmas," she said.

"Even if we do get a cut in December, the flow through on that will take time."

Dr Sean Sands, from Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies, said the Click Frenzy sale should be worth "many, many millions" to the companies involved.

"I think there’s been 20,000 to 30,000 people registering per day over the last week or so, so it’s going to be a pretty big deal for retailers," he said.

But with so many people expected to pile online to see the deals, there were concerns about the retailers’ servers and access to some sites, particularly for mobile and tablet users.

"It’s a bit of an unknown factor at the moment and a lot depends on how many people actually take part," Dr Sands added.

In a message posted on the Click Frenzy website, organisers acknowledged the site’s servers could be under pressure.

"We have taken every precaution to ensure our servers will not go down, and we have advised our retailers of the traffic volumes they should expect," it said.

Internet security software firm Bitdefender has warned Click Frenzy shoppers that con artists may try to take advantage of the sale by setting up fake websites or stealing credit card details.