1. “Expect pandemonium at the stores.”
Stores are anticipating a huge turnout — read: crowds — this year. According to a survey conducted by management consulting firm Accenture, 53% of consumers say they plan to shop on Black Friday, up from 44% last year. That would reverse three years of declining consumer interest in the day, based on the company’s previous surveys.
The spike comes as retailers have been ramping up their Black Friday marketing efforts and rolling out new strategies to lure consumers, says Jeff Green, an independent retail analyst in Phoenix. To lure consumers, retailers have been rolling out new strategies: Some stores are using social media to give shoppers sneak previews of the deals they’ll offer on Nov. 23.
To pull in more early birds, some retailers are touting free gift cards with purchases. Consumers who spend $50 or more on certain products at Target between 4 a.m. and noon, for instance, will get a $10 store gift card for future purchases. Wal-Mart is also offering $100 store gift cards to customers who buy select smartphones beginning at 5 a.m. (while supplies last, that is).
Of course, these sneak previews of sales and freebies can be a plus for consumers. By knowing Black Friday prices in advance, shoppers can decide whether it’s worth holding off until the big day.2. “We ruined Thanksgiving.”
Thanks to retailers, Black Friday comes earlier each year. This year, some stores will roll out their Black Friday deals before the Thanksgiving dinner table is cleared. Sears, Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart deals will kick off at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night in most locations. Most Target stores will open at 9 p.m., while Macy’s and Best Buy will open doors at most locations at midnight. Retail experts say it’s all meant to build up consumer demand for the day.
But here’s the problem for shoppers: Those who want to snatch up the Black Friday doorbusters — super low prices on a limited number of electronics and other items — will have to be among the first in line, which means arriving at the store on Thanksgiving morning or at the latest in the afternoon, says Jon Vincent, spokesman for BlackFriday.com, which tracks Black Friday deals. So much for giving thanks.3. “Black Friday came early.”
Lots of retailers started the Black Friday-like come-ons in early November this year. The reason is simple. Consumer spending this holiday season is expected to increase 4.1% over the last holiday season. Still, that’s down from the 5.6% growth retailers saw last year, according to the National Retail Federation. With consumers putting a cap on their budgets, retailers are jockeying to be the first stop shoppers make, says Jason Baker, a partner with X Team International, a retail brokerage alliance.4. “You should have stayed home.”
Jen Dorman, 28, was on the hunt for a cheap slow cooker. She spent hours at the stores on Black Friday two years ago looking for a doorbuster discount. By the time she got to the stores, the model she wanted was nowhere to be found. “I felt like I’d gone through an obstacle course and I was wasting all this time,” Dorman says. Tired and annoyed, she says, she returned home and searched for the appliance online and found it. What’s more, it was selling at a lower price than the brick and mortar stores were advertising. Oh, and, she got free shipping too.5. “Prepare for violence.”
Dan Nainan says he remembers his breaking point. He had been waiting outside a Best Buy for three hours — before the store opened — to buy a flat-screen TV that was on sale for 50% off. His chances at scoring one were decent, he figured, because he was around the 20th person in line. But as the doors opened, a crowd ran to the doors, cutting the line. Angered, the shoppers behind him started pushing forward. “It was a mob scene,” he says. “There was all this pushing and shoving; I thought someone was going to get trampled.” Erin Bix, a spokeswoman for Best Buy, says that the safety of its customers and employees is its biggest priority.
Fortunately, no one was injured, says Nainan. But Black Friday scenes like this have been occurring during the past few years with deadly consequences.6. “You won’t give us your e-mail address? Say goodbye to some deals.”
In an attempt to get consumers to dust off their rewards cards this Black Friday, retailers will be offering some deals that are exclusive to those card holders. Best Buy says it will offer its Reward Zone Silver cardholders — customers who spend at least $2,500 a year at the retailer — early access online to its Black Friday doorbusters. “They will have the opportunity to purchase doorbusters before anyone else,” says Bix. Separately, Sears “Shop Your Way” rewards members (who can sign up for free) will be able to access many Black Friday deals on the store’s site on Nov. 18. And for the first time, Target REDcard debit or credit card holders will receive exclusive access to 20 deals on its site on Nov. 21, including discounts on children’s toys and kitchen appliances.
Retailers say they want to reward their loyal customers. But experts say stores want to use Black Friday to incentivize more shoppers to sign up for these cards. The cards help retailers to expand their marketing base and to collect data on their customers, including what items they tend to buy, says Green. But they’re also offering these deals because they’re expecting their card members to spend more at their store on Black Friday than other consumers will.7. “Don’t expect good quality.”
A flat-screen TV marked down to $300 isn’t necessarily a great deal. Stores aren’t likely to offer big discounts on the latest, top quality in-demand electronics on Black Friday, says Green. Retailers know they can still sell the most coveted models for higher prices. The same holds true for laptops: While their prices are enticing, $200 to $300 laptops are usually not the best products, says Vincent: They’re intended primarily for Web surfing, as opposed to for gaming or watching movies. And they tend to last roughly three to four years, he says.8. “We market to women (but not the best deals).”
Women spend four times more on holiday shopping than men, according to a 2011 study by online marketplace Alibaba.com. As a result, retailers direct much of their Black Friday marketing toward women, says Green. However, the products that are marketed directly to women, such as clothing, handbags and jewelry are less in danger of running out. Rather than rushing in on Black Friday for such items, consumers might want to hold off until the last few days of the holiday shopping season, when retailers typically slash prices on whatever’s left as they try to unload remaining inventory. Some products sell for 10% to 15% less than they do on Black Friday.9. “Don’t be fooled by credit card discounts offers.”
This holiday season, nearly 29% of consumers plan to use a credit card for most of their holiday gift purchases — the highest proportion since 2007, according to the NRF. A good number of those purchases may be made with store credit cards, as this is the time of year stores push their own cards hard. Throughout the year, consumers who sign up for a retailer’s store credit card typically get 10% off on the first purchase made using that card. But during the end of the year — typically the last five weeks or so, often starting with Black Friday — they’ll bump up that discount for opening a new card to 20%, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com.
Store credit cards, however, are among the worst debts consumers can carry charging interest rates that are almost always 20% or higher.10. “We’ll try to keep you in the store all day.”
It used to be that shoppers who arrived at stores when they opened on Black Friday would get first dibs on the best deals on electronics, appliances and other in-demand items. That’s no longer guaranteed. A growing number of retailers are introducing a wave of doorbusters that occur every few hours on the big day — and leading up to it.
Retailers say they want to make their stores the go-to destination for Black Friday, and they’d like shoppers to continue coming to the store throughout the day.full article