Black Friday: Competition Mounts as Stores Open Earlier

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Standing in line for Black Friday openings? Better deals may be online, experts say

New York—The hype and hoopla surrounding Black Friday, Nov. 25, is already reaching a fever pitch with 24 days still to come.

Within the last few days, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Target said they will open midnight Thanksgiving for the first time. With many retailers traditionally extending their Black Friday hours, many will be open 24 hours on Nov. 25.

And most likely additional retailers will follow suit in the next few weeks, perhaps even encroaching further into Thanksgiving Day. Last year, Sears opened on Thanksgiving Day, like its sister Sears Holdings’ Kmart has done along with many national drug store chains. Retailers are also offering online deals Thanksgiving Day even if their brick and mortar locations are closed for the holiday.

It’s all due to several reports that holiday spending will be less than stellar. The National Retail Federation expects total spending during the holiday period to rise 2.8%, down from a 5.2% increase last year. Shoppers are expected to spend 4.6% less this year on gifts, or an average of about $516.

“In dollars and cents, it probably gives the retailers that are opening extra early another fraction of a day’s sales,” said Scott Rothbort, finance professor at Seton Hall’s Stillman School of Business told Market Watch. “But it does engender publicity and in this environment that is very valuable.”

Emergence of ‘Deal Addicts’

Percent discount "deal addicts" may expect?

But the scramble for Black Friday could make this the most competitive season for doorbusters and discounts ever.

“It’s hard for today’s retailers to make their Black Friday deal stand out when shoppers have been getting significant discounts throughout the year,” says Manish Rathi, vice president of marketing at Retrevo, which tracks consumer discounts in its latest Gadgetology survey. “This group of consumers isn’t easy to please, and they are willing to hold onto their money until the right deal comes along. We are concerned about the average retailer’s ability to provide high caliber deals this Black Friday and even the rest of the year to satisfy this emerging subculture of deal addicts.”

These “deal addicts” are a by-product of year-round, Black Friday-like discounts, many offered through online coupons such as Groupon, Woots, etc.

According to Retrevo, an online site that tracks consumer electronics sales across some 100 million data points, suggests a new class of consumer is emerging. In its latest Gadgetology study, Retrevo found that 70% of Black Friday shoppers were also members of coupon deal sites. Moreover, a third of them say they buy everything on discount, whether it’s from an online coupon or other means.

These deal addicts are seeking greater and greater discounts, too. “Among the deal site members more than half of the respondents  needed items to be at least 50% off  to be a good deal…In fact, one in four respondents wanted a 70% off on apparel and shoes,” Retrevo found.

Women are nearly twice as likely to buy almost everything on a discounted price, too, with nearly a quarter saying they buy everything on discount and 35% buy “most things” on discount, the Gadgetology survey found.

Surprisingly, while consumer electronics, such as tablet computers and high definition TV sets rank near the top of consumers’ Black Friday shopping lists, clothes and shoes rank first at 41%, jewelry is fifth at 17%.

“If consumers are hungry for deals on these products, Groupon could be very successful offering discount on them,” Rathi added.

Myth Busting Doorbusters

Among the deal websites offering almost hourly updates on holiday sales is (“Where Everyday is Black Friday”). The company also keeps consumers abreast to trends at retail and issued its own list dispelling “Black Friday myths.”

Some of the most important ones dealnews myth busts this year are:

MYTH: Black Friday sales begin on, well, Black Friday
Major retailers start premiering  Black Friday sales online on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. “Amazon even announced that its Black Friday offerings this year will begin several days before that,” dealnews notes.

MYTH: Doorbusters are free
“Believe it or not, many people believe that Black Friday is the day to score freebies. This myth may be what lures people to sleep outside a store overnight, but most doorbusters are just low-priced items meant to create frenzy,” according to dealnews.

MYTH: Black Friday deals are so good, they’re worth sleeping overnight on a curb for
Nope, in fact dealnews says that online deals combined with a percent off coupons like Target does mean that “select items were actually cheaper if you just stayed home and shopped online.”

MYTH: Nobody will beat Black Friday prices
Not true, says dealnews, which keeps up with retailers such as Amazon, Meijer, Walmart etc. who offer price matching—or even a better price in some cases.

MYTH: Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year
Actually the Saturday before December 25 is the busiest shopping day of the year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Only about 35% of shoppers say they’ll do any holiday shopping on Black Friday.

MYTH: Prices on Black Friday are the lowest of the year
“Although many Black Friday deals offer the lowest prices of the year so far, we will eventually see many sales matched or beaten later on; it just depends on whether you’re willing to wait,” dealnews says.

MYTH: Black Friday is the best time to do all of your holiday shopping
Dealnews keeps tabs on the “best and worse” things to buy in November, and advises that for winter apparel, toys or brand name TVs, consumers may find ever lower prices “if you wait.”

MYTH: If you have buyer’s remorse, you can always just return your purchases
Here’s where many retailers have tightened their return policies during the holiday season.  “Some retailers will only give you store credit even if you have a receipt. A handful of stores are now also keeping track of serial returners and banning them,” dealnews advises.

MYTH: Signing up for a store credit card for an extra discount is a no-brainer
“If it’s really that good for you, do you think stores would try to up-sell you so hard?” dealnews asks. By offering store cards retailers are hoping that consumers will trade up in their purchases or buy more. Additionally, opening such lines of credit can adversely affect some consumers’ credit scores, too.

MYTH: All of the good deals are printed in Black Friday ads
Some retailers, such as Walmart, offer last minute deals online on Thanksgiving Day, that weren’t published in their Black Friday circulars. “These ‘secret’ deals are only found online, so the trick is to uncover them on the web on Thursday,” dealnews advises.

MYTH: Leaked Black Friday ads are accurate
“In fact, they are often inaccurate or misleading,” dealnews says. “Last year, we jeered several retailers for advertising discounts that we just couldn’t find.”

MYTH: Cyber Monday offers the same caliber deals online as Black Friday in-store sales
While many consumers would rather enjoy their Thanksgiving meals with family and avoid the Black Friday crowds and shop on Cyber Monday, Nov. 28, dealnews advises those consumers they may miss out on the biggest price markdowns. “You’ll definitely see retailers’ sales, but these bargains are essentially the leftovers from the Black Friday feast.”