When it comes to shopping on Black Friday, the new economy is demanding new rules.
week, it’ll be the night owl who gets the worm, not the early bird,
with many big-box stores opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, four
to six hours earlier than last year. Wal-Mart gave in to shoppers
wanting a sneak peak at Friday’s specials. Instead of letting the deals
get leaked to sites that provide advance copies of the Thanksgiving Day
circulars, the retailer released them last week via e-mail to anyone who
signed up on its website. The hope is that it’ll raise excitement — and
spending. Those are just a few of the many changes in store for Black
Friday shoppers, who are more deal-driven than ever before and on the
offensive with new tools to help them find the best gifts at the lowest
With many retailers sitting on a glut of
unsold goods, said Dealnews CEO Dan de Grandpre, this year’s Black
Friday discounts could be the best in years.
That’s good news for shoppers.
“They’re (retailers) pulling out all the stops,” said Andrea Waroch of FreeShipping.org.
Old rule: Get up early on Friday morning to shop.
New rule: Stay up late on Thanksgiving night.
such as Best Buy, Target, Kohl’s and Macy’s will open at midnight on
Friday, creating a conundrum for every door-buster shopper — whether to
stay awake after the turkey gobble or take a short nap. Just as
important, how will shoppers fill the time (and stay wake) until 4 a.m.
when the next wave of stores (Sears, JC Penney) opens? Will Caribou and
Starbucks pull all-nighters to keep shoppers alert?
worry that in the race to get the first crack at shoppers’ wallets,
retailers might even be open on Thanksgiving Day next year. But that
genie has already left the bottle. Target is experimenting by opening
its 29 stores in Denver from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but its
Black Friday specials won’t start until midnight, even in Denver. “This
test is about providing guests with an opportunity to buy last-minute
Thanksgiving shopping needs, including groceries,” said Target
spokeswoman Sarah VanNeevel. Toys ‘R’ Us opens at 9 p.m. Wal-Mart opens
shortly thereafter at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night with separate deals at
10 and midnight. The earlier hours are already causing objections,
including from Change.org, which has more than 90,000 signatures
protesting Target’s earlier opening.
Old rule: Plot your shopping strategy on Thanksgiving Day.
New rule: Plan your strategy weeks before Thanksgiving with websites and apps that leak the deals.
beats settling down with a bundle of Black Friday circulars from
Thursday’s paper, but dozens of websites (Blackfridaysites.com) and a
handful of smartphoneapps such as Google Shopper now offer a chance to
preview the ads days or weeks before. It gives comparison shoppers more
time to find the best deals, such as the Best Buy door buster, a Sharp
42-inch TV for $200, regularly $800. Some deal-tracking sites such as
Dealnews do a lot of the comparisons for you and list the best deals.
Old rule: Get the lowest prices on Black Friday.
New rule: The best deal may occur on Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday or later.
prices on Black Friday are hard to beat, but only a handful of people
get the “limited quantities” when the doors open. Under the new rules,
low prices are often found online on Thanksgiving Day or Cyber Monday
(the Monday after Thanksgiving) or closer to Christmas if sales are
weak, said Dave Brennan, co-director of the Institute for Retailing
Excellence at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Even
better, bargain shoppers can get those deals sitting in front of their
computer in their jammies.
Old rule: Few retailers offered price-matching policies.
rule: Price matching is becoming more common as such big-box retailers
as Amazon (TVs only), Home Depot, J&R, Lowe’s, Office Depot and
Office Max now offer it.
Both Target and Wal-Mart
offer price matching year round, but, oddly enough, not on Black Friday.
At least not this year. But the retailer offering the best price match
is Amazon, said De Grandpre. “It will cut its prices live,” he said.
When Walmart.com activates a lower price, Amazon will match or undercut
it. “Where else but online can you watch a live price war, a
blow-by-blow boxing match?” he said.
Old rule: Flat-screen and big-screen TVs were one of the most popular sellers for early bird specials.
New rule: Most of us already have a flat-screen, so we’ve moved on to e-readers and tablets.
don’t expect deals on the newest models, like the Barnes&Noble Nook
tablet or the Kindle Touch, said De Grandpre. Older versions will get
Remember last year when even Menards
and Home Depot were selling flat-panel TVs as door busters? It’s still a
good time to buy a TV with prices dropping 15 to 20 percent from summer
prices, according to Dealnews, but this year people will be elbow to
elbow in the hunt for discounted e-readers and tablets, Brennan said.
©2011 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
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