Retailers push Black Friday ever earlier; some start Thursday
Jon Chavez / Toledo Blade
Who needs rest when there are bargains?
Apparently convinced that consumers would rather shop than sleep, many retailers have moved opening times even earlier Friday, dubbed Black Friday and one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
And several retailers aren’t waiting for Black Friday, instead opening Thursday with their bargains and “door-buster” specials.
“It’s gotten ridiculous,” said Michael Brim, operator of the popular Black Friday Web site bfads.net, which posts retail advertising circulars weeks ahead of the actual shopping day.
“Now it’s eat your turkey and down an energy drink or an espresso – because you’re going to stay up,” he said.
“There’s no more sleeping between Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
“Special discounts on select items, a tradition for the official opening of the holiday shopping season, are expected to lure big crowds.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that 138 million shoppers will hit the stores Friday, up from about 137 million a year ago.
Last year, Black Friday sales totaled about $10.7 billion, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago research firm, making it the top day for holiday sales in 2009.
Industry experts expect holiday sales to be about 3 percent higher than last year’s.
Retail consultant Jeff Green, of Jeff Green Partners, said it will be hard to get a good reading on this year’s Black Friday because it will be diluted by store openings Thursday and because of special sales on Saturday, Sunday, and so-called Cyber-Monday, an Internet shopping day.
However, for consumers the shopping experience is opening a variety of shopping day and time options. For the 19th year, Kmart will open its stores on Thanksgiving, opening Thursday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
But this year it will have lots of company. Sears, which owns Kmart, will open from 7 a.m. to noon Thursday, and then again from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
Kim Freely, a Sears spokesman, said the change “is one of the many things we’re doing to respond to our customers’ desires to shop for great value.”
Michael’s, a popular crafts retailer, also plans to open Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., then reopening Friday at 6 a.m.
Also, joining the Thanksgiving time shift is Toys R Us, which will open at 10 p.m. tonight and stay open for 24 hours.
Adrienne Giordano, a spokesman for the store chain, said the retailer opened at midnight last year, but it got such a great response from consumers, it decided to push the opening time back another two hours.
“We’re trying to provide the most convenience we can for our customers,” she said.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, also has Thanksgiving hours.
Most of its supercenters will be open 24 hours Thursday, and stores that aren’t supercenters will open at midnight tonight.
Meanwhile, some retailers will simply open earlier Friday. Kohl’s, for example, is opening an hour earlier this year at 3 a.m. At 4 a.m., a number of other large retailers will open, including J.C. Penney, Target, and Macy’s.
An increasing aspect of Black Friday is the mix of sales in stores and on the same retailers’ Web sites.
Best Buy, which opens at 5 a.m. Friday, has been launching online deals this week prior to its Black Friday opening.
Mr. Brim, of the bfads.net Web site, said retailers like Best Buy are turning more to online specials – sometimes offering Web-only specials – to compete with retailers that have a Web-only presence such as Amazon.com. But the bread and butter for retailers will be the in-store sales fueled by “door-buster” specials – in-demand items with hefty discounts but usually limited quantities.
Mr. Brim, who studies all of the ads his site gathers and evaluates the doorbuster specials, said the best deals this year probably again will be at Target, Amazon.com online, Best Buy, and Walmart.
Target, he said, is selling a 40-inch Westinghouse LCD TV with 1080p resolution for $300. “You’ll save about $150 bucks,” Mr. Brim said.
But the best bargains may be on Blu-ray movies at Walmart and Target, he said.
“Blu-ray movies are usually around $25, but Walmart has them for about $5 and $10,” Mr. Brim said.
“And Target at $8 and $13. The thing is, these movies are actually blockbusters, not junk. These are movies people actually want to watch.”