Georgea Kovanis/Detroit Free Press—Think everyone you know will be shopping during all those Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales?
You may be surprised to learn lots of them will be having a second slice of pie and sleeping late.
“I’m extremely price conscious,” said Andrea Westfall, 36, of Sterling Heights, adding that she reads sale circulars, compares prices and will “bend over backward to use a coupon.”
And when it comes to hitting the stores this Thursday or Friday, “there’s no deal good enough that I will brave those crowds.”
“There’s always going to be a sale.”
While there’s no denying that lots of shoppers love Black Friday — the thrill of the hunt, the huge concentration of sales spread over a long weekend when most people aren’t working, the social aspect of spending time with friends, soaking in the sights and sounds of the season — Westfall’s attitude represents the sentiment of a growing contingent of shoppers.
We know that shoppers like Westfall have no plans to join the 33 million consumers who are expecting to shop in stores or online on Thanksgiving, according to a National Retail Federation survey. And they have no plans to join the 97 million who say they plan to shop on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.
These shoppers skip the frenzy because they pay close attention to deal-oriented websites and track advertisements and prices frequently enough that they know Black Friday isn’t the only day to get a deal.
“I think the savviest shopper is the one that is probably the least affected by Black Friday,” said Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, a retail design and brand strategy firm based in Southfield. “When they see the advertisement for the deals, they already understand if it is a good deal and what the alternatives are to an equal or better deal.”
Sale-tracking consumer websites such as Gotta Deal (www.gottadeal.com) and Black Friday Ads (www.bfads.net) have an incredible record when it comes to obtaining copies of Thanksgiving night and Black Friday ads before they’re released by stores.
Releasing them early gives shoppers time to study what will be on sale and search for better deals, which are certainly out there.
“There are definitely some great deals on Black Friday,” said Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst for NerdWallet, a personal finance site based in San Francisco. “But a lot of items on sale in the store are things you could have found for the same price or less during the year.”
The KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer that Target plans to sell for $199 during its Thanksgiving/Black Friday sale was actually less expensive earlier in the month. According to NerdWallet, the Target website sold the mixer for $183.99 on Nov. 8. Target said it would have no comment on the NerdWallet study.
Meanwhile, Macy’s is advertising a Thanksgiving/Black Friday Tommy Hilfiger faux leather jacket for $79.99 — the same price the jacket sold for during the store’s Veterans Day sale, according to NerdWallet.
“Macy’s has compelling promotions throughout the year with many occurring throughout the holiday season,” Andrea Schwartz, Macy’s spokeswoman, said in a statement e-mailed to the Free Press. “Although an item may have been on sale for a certain price prior, we have hundreds of fabulous Black Friday door busters.”
The bottom line, said Deanna Klisz, 44, of Livonia, who has been done with her holiday shopping since August, is this: “I think if you pay attention, you can find great sales during the year without making yourself crazy.”
And that’s been especially true this year.
With sales happening all the time and many stores starting this year’s Black Friday promotions early — at the end of October and the beginning of November — an extraordinarily high 53.8% of holiday shoppers reported they had already started shopping by Nov. 7, according to the NRF, a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization.
Meanwhile, shoppers’ overall holiday season spending isn’t expected to be much more than it was in 2012. The NRF predicted an increase of 3.9%.
Deals on cheap brands
While a deal is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone likes getting something for less, many shoppers have learned that Black Friday isn’t necessarily the best time to get the most deluxe merchandise.
Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail consultant, added: “If you look at some of the door buster items, not so much in apparel but in electronics, they are not the latest and greatest models of whatever they’re touting. Most of the TVs are not the smart TVs. They’re big screen, but they’re not Internet connected.”
Like any business, stores use these ultra-inexpensive items to create a buzz, to pique our interest in the hopes of luring us into the store and positioning us to buy more.
While you may find inexpensive lower-tier small appliances throughout the year, you’ll see more of them on Black Friday because more stores are having sales than on a typical weekend outside of the holiday season.
The abundance of sales, the abundance of ways for shoppers to price check and educate themselves changes Black Friday.
Experts say this season’s increased promotions could be one of the reasons fewer shoppers are expected to shop Thanksgiving weekend. According to the National Retail Federation, up to 140 million shoppers say they expect to shop Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, down from 147 million who planned to do so last year.
“I think the sophisticated consumer realizes that the deals that they used to be chasing only on Black Friday are available beyond that day,” said Mark Davidoff of Deloitte, a worldwide consulting group. “I think it’s consumer choice to try to spread out their efforts over the course of the week or over the course of the month to maybe avoid some of the crunch that one would normally be part of.”
Of course, the Black Friday crunch can be fun. The timing can work well for those who are off during the long Thanksgiving weekend and wouldn’t otherwise encounter a big concentration of sales. A lot of the shoppers who are apt to be out on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday are social shoppers — shoppers who take in the sights and sounds and buy a couple things they consider to be a deal.
Becky Gray, 53, of Lake Orion said she will spend Black Friday shopping with her daughter, Elizabeth Gray, 24, of Royal Oak. “For us, it’s really become a social thing, it’s become a time for each other. … We enjoy a little bit of the hustle and bustle, but we take the sale shopping fairly lightly.”
And, as they do every year, enjoy lunch together at Olive Garden.