9/25/2012 4:15 PM ET|
8 ways Black Friday is changing
Retailers are already ramping up for Nov. 23. Here's what you need to know to get the best deals this holiday season.
That annual trip to the shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving is a tradition for many families, marking the official start of the holiday season.
But in recent years, the rules of Black Friday shopping have changed dramatically, turning this ritual on its head.
New hours, different types of sales and a bigger online focus allowed retailers to rack up a record $52.4 billion in sales last year, according to the National Retail Federation. However, that spending was spread over the course of the four-day weekend rather than on just Black Friday itself.
Indeed, while the term "Black Friday" was used to denote the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit (or inch out of the red and into the black,) analysts say these days it should probably be called Gray Friday, as it fades into a longer shopping spree with a flurry of separate promotions, Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst of consumer research firm NPD Group, points out.
However, analysts say, this day still offers the most dedicated shoppers a crack at a select group of rock-bottom "door-buster" deals that are unrivaled throughout the season.
Here are eight ways Black Friday has changed and what it means for shoppers this holiday season:
It's no leak
More retailers are now giving out their own ads.
Years ago, Black Friday sales ads were leaked from retail and printing company employees. Now marketing executives have started giving them out ahead of time to Black Friday deal sites, news outlets and even social media followers in hopes of building buzz about their sales.
Wal-Mart, for instance, after years of sending threatening cease-and-desist letters to anyone leaking its Black Friday bargains, has in recent years given its ad to CNN and posted the deals early on its Facebook page.
The early exposure, the company realizes, puts it top of mind for consumers researching and planning their purchases ahead of time.
Some retailers are even beginning to advertise on Black Friday sites, in an attempt to get their ads noticed, says Brad Olson, who runs BlackFriday @ Gottadeal.com.
"That never happened five to six years ago," he says.
Less need to camp out as deals shift online
Probably the biggest change in Black Friday has been the steady migration of sales from brick-and-mortar stores to the Web.
While retailers want consumers to buy in stores -- because they tend to buy more there -- they can't afford to alienate online shoppers.
In years past, shoppers had to brave early-morning chills to snag most Black Friday bargains.
Website dealnews.com estimates that 70% of those bargains now can be found online for the same price or less as early as Wednesday of Thanksgiving week."The better deals are likely to sell out quickly," says Olson, "but I think consumers have a better chance to score the best deals online than they've ever had."
So unless you're after one of those half-price washer/dryer combos or a $200 42-inch LCD TV you could probably stay at home instead of lining up outside the store with your thermos.
More holiday shopping stories:
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- Black Friday lines good for ego, bad for wallet
- Are mobile coupons worth it?
More sales start Thanksgiving or very early Friday morning
In an effort to best their rivals -- and claim a greater share of holiday spending -- retailers have been opening up earlier and earlier.
While a 5 or 6 a.m. Friday start time used to be the norm, now shoppers may have to pull an all-nighter to land the best deals, says Michael Brim, an operator of deal site BFAds.net.
Last year Wal-Mart started its sales at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (9 p.m. online), and Toys R Us opened its doors at 9 p.m. Staying up late after a big feast is hard enough. In some cases, shoppers had to stay at the store for hours to land deals across all departments or even come back early the next morning.
Black Friday isn't the best and only day for bargains
While sales on Black Friday continue to rise, "it has become less powerful and important," Cohen says, as shoppers spread out their purchases over a longer period, rather than filling much of their list in one bargain-filled day.
This year, more consumers are hunting for deals earlier, in an attempt to use layaway plans or to just score deals on hot items before they sell out.
According to the NRF, 22.1% of shoppers surveyed say they will begin their gift shopping in October, up from 20.3% last year.
And a greater number are trolling for deals right up until Christmas and Hanukkah.
"There's been less emphasis on Black Friday in favor of the two-month period leading up to Christmas," Olson says. "There are more Black Friday-level deals in the weeks leading up to Black Friday (and the weeks after) than there were five years ago, when stores put all of their eggs in the Black Friday basket."
In fact, dealnews.com says the best deals on winter apparel, toys and brand-name HDTVs come right before Santa's big day.
"There are definitely better prices to be had as the season rolls out," says Cohen.
So why do retailers focus so much on Black Friday? "It's still a launch pad to get consumers into a spending mindset," Cohen says. "It's an emotional trigger," reminding them of time spent bonding with family -- even if it was elbowing past other cranky shoppers to get a bargain on that must-have toy.
It has also become a prime time for people to stock up on deals for themselves, such as holiday apparel or jewelry. According to the NRF survey, six in 10 shoppers -- the most in the survey's history -- plan to spend an average of $139.92 on "self-gifting" this holiday season.
More chains offer secret, last-minute Black Friday deals online
Once most of the Black Friday ads have been published on sites across the Web, a second wave of discounting, not featured in leaked ads, takes place. These Black Friday week "flash sales" allow retail chains -- especially discounters like Target, Best Buy, Amazon and Wal-Mart -- to match or better their rivals' published deals.
"A printed ad has to be designed, printed and delivered," Brim says. "An online sale can be created and launched in under an hour."
Amazon, for one, does a lot of its discounting on the fly, marking down prices on items during the entire week in response to others' bargains.
To find these last-minute sales, it pays to check deal sites, which update their sales information frequently.
More retailers are price-matching BF deals
Black Friday sales used to be the exception to most retailers' price-matching policies. Not anymore. Best Buy and Target said recently they would match Amazon and other online retailers on prices in an attempt to cut down on so-called "showrooming," where people inspect stores' merchandise before buying the item for less online.
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Umm...so I just read the article titled: "Black Friday guide: 8 changes" and then I scroll to the comments. What does Obama or China have to do with Black Friday? Black Friday sales have been going on for decades!
So, let me actually post something relevant to the article...I love Black Friday and have made it a tradition to go out with a few ladies at the crack of dawn with Starbucks in hand and a plan of action. I actually don't buy much Black Friday, but I do find it pretty entertaining to watch the shoppers. We check a few sites that leak ads and try to come up with a game plan as to which stores to hit first and discuss what everyone hopes to get. There are some really great deals, but there are always more sales whether it's the 'Lowest Price of the Season Sale' or 'Last Wednesday before Christmas Sale' so I eventually get everything on my shopping list.
Every year I try to buy things made in America and am surprised that many things are still made here. Just shop around and use the internet. We can all help support each other with a little research.
Folks our economic problems, foreclosures on the East coast of the United States began in mid 2007. Obama had not even announced he was running for President. The house I bought in Florida plummeted to it's lowest value in the last quarter of 2008, unemployment doubled. Obama had not even been sworn in to office at that point.
Manufacturing has been leaving this country from more than ten years, Wal-Mart is and was one of the biggest caterer's to cheap Chinese products. The owners and Executives of the company became wealthier all while wiping out the higher paying jobs in the Mom and Pop stores of local communities. The slogan of low prices, goes along with low wages anf few benefits for American workers.
There are plenty to blame, don't believe the new smiling politician cares about you anymore than the last.
Black friday is the most evil day of shopping every year. People die from getting trampled from the crowds and people fight and beat each other up over an item for sale.
Politics, politics...Let's get back to the basics... Family values, morals, and what matters most during the holidays-Family!
As for the retail worker who must continue to put food on the table for their families, he/she sacrifices much during this time of the year just to satisfy the growing diverse community along with the corporate greed. The earlier the corporation decides to open on Black Friday (or even on Easter) to accomodate the growing demand to satisfy customers and build revenue, the retail worker and their families' traditions and quality time are disrupted all to remain employeed and accomodate the general public. My blame relies on the corporate greed because as the President, VP, CEO, CFO, and other corporate personnel enjoy the holidays with their families the frontline field is forced to choose between remaining employeed or just working the long, early, and open even later hours. As Black Friday hours change to earlier and later hours, as Easter is now a required working day with no benefits/incentives, will Christmas be next?
Try going back in history, this country was doomed a long time ago. The federal reserve took over the money squeezing the middle class and the economy. They also have something to do with black friday,people hear that and think its all about shopping,instead its tied to crooked bankers. This great nation will never come back unless we stand up to the banks and go back to the gov distributing our monies,period. So guess what neither one of these candidates will help us, unless they stand up to the bankers. Like Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy and many others, most of whom were assassinated.
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