Valley retailers make final push for Thanksgiving, Black Friday
Bethany Clough/The Fresno Bee
Shop early. Shop late. Shop all night long or bring home a pile of gifts without ever leaving your car.
Black Friday shoppers this year have an unusually wide range of options as retailers step up their game in the battle to get the most shoppers into their stores.
Midnight openings are now passé as Toys “R” Us, Walmart and Sears break out the doorbuster deals at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night for the first time. Target opens at 9 p.m.
“Black Friday is the only day that’s more than 24 hours,” said Phoenix-based retail consultant Jeff Green. “They’re just trying to get people in the stores earlier. They want to secure the sale.”
An estimated 41 million people nationwide are expected to shop on Thanksgiving Day, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Fifty-one percent of people who responded to the council’s survey said they would shop between Thursday and Sunday.
Black Friday is the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season and this year it’s predicted as the No. 1 shopping day for sales and foot traffic, according to ShopperTrak, a retail technology company.
Holiday sales are projected to grow 4.1% this year, with the average shopper expected to spend $749.51, according to the National Retail Federation. Since that’s only about $9 more than last year and with deals online well before Thanksgiving now, retailers are scrambling to attract shoppers.
The trend of opening earlier has been happening for awhile, but new this year are the waves of doorbuster deals designed to get customers into the stores Thursday night and again early Friday morning, Green said.
Walmart, for example, is open Thanksgiving Day, with doorbuster deals that people will line up for at 8 p.m. — such as the new Furby for $45 — followed by different deals at 10 p.m. and again at 5 a.m. Friday. Sears and Target have similar staggered deals.
“It really was something we heard from our customers,” said Brian Hanover, spokesman for Sears, which will have deals at 8 p.m. and again at 4 a.m. “They want more flexibility in their shopping options.”
Sears is even appealing to shoppers who hate crowds. Customers who buy online and pick up at the store have the option of texting the store while they’re on their way over. Store employees will bring the purchases to shoppers’ cars and customers never have to set foot in the store.
Retailers are increasingly offering deals online this year, and there’s more holiday sales leading up to Black Friday. And then there’s Small Business Saturday this weekend, followed by online deals on Cyber Monday and the fledgling “Mobile Tuesday,” an effort to get people to shop from their phones and other mobile devices on Tuesday.
The shopping events now take up more days than many people have off for the holiday. And some are fed up.
Friends Tina Cuadros, 19, of Fresno, and Michelle Miramontes, 18, of Madera, have sworn off Black Friday.
“I’d rather just shop some other day when the mall is not bad,” Cuadros said at River Park this week.
With so many sales happening early, Miramontes said her family found the same price on a 70-inch TV at Costco that they would have had to line up for at Walmart.
Retail workers are pushing back against Black Friday, too. Some Walmart workers walked off the job earlier this week or are refusing to work as a protest against what they say is Walmart’s silencing of workers demanding better pay, health care and working conditions.
An online petition started by a Target worker complains that the early opening is taking away from time spent with family on Thanksgiving. More than 365,000 people have signed the petition asking Target to “save Thanksgiving.”