Retailers offer doorbuster deals for Black Friday
When you can get “Black Friday” deals at home on your smartphone days before Thanksgiving, is there still a reason to leave the dinner table and brave crowds at the mall?
Unless a shopper just loves the tradition, it all depends on how desperate they are to get a specific, heavily discounted gadget, said Scott Rankin, principal at KPMG Strategy.
“If you’re in the market generally for a TV or computer or apparel, you can still get within 97 to 98% of what you’re looking for … sitting on the couch buying on your phone or computer,” he said.
So-called doorbuster deals on hot toys and gadgets or giveaways can get customers into stores, where they might end up picking up an extra item or two. Online shoppers tend to cherry-pick deals and move on, Rankin said.
But saving too many deals for people willing to wait in lines on Black Friday risks missing customers who increasingly shop online or those who no longer wait for Thanksgiving to start their holiday shopping. Retailers generally aren’t reserving as many deals for in-store shoppers as they used to, said Kelsey Sheehy, personal finance expert at NerdWallet.
Target has a variety of discounts on TVs, but customers must go to a store if they want to take advantage of a deal for a 50-inch 4K smart TV sold for $149.99 instead of $309.99. Bass Pro Shops offers $10 fleece zip-ups and kids’ ride-on toy trucks for 44% off, but only for customers who come to its six-hour Black Friday sale.
Macy’s says diamond stud earrings that normally cost $750 will be available for $179, but only in stores. Items that are free after a mail-in rebate, like a 1.5-quart slow cooker, also can only be purchased at Macy’s stores.
Other retailers hand out coupons to customers who come to stores on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
Best Buy, on the other hand, made many of its Black Friday deals available Monday. “Nearly all” deals are available both in stores and online, spokesman Matthew Smith said.
Sales have been creeping earlier over the past couple of years, spreading out spending that used to focus on Black Friday itself. About 56% of consumers surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they’d already started shopping by the first week of November. A decade earlier, only 48% had started spending.
Black Friday still has plenty of fans: The retail trade group estimates 39.6 million people will shop on Thanksgiving and 114.6 million on Black Friday. Those figures include people shopping online as well as in stores.
Deal seekers at some stores will be able to get a head start on their computers or phones. Walmart, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney all start Black Friday sales online hours before stores open on Thanksgiving. Target credit card holders and loyalty program members can access some deals online the day before Thanksgiving. Nonmembers will see Black Friday sales online Thursday morning, well before stores open at 5 p.m.
Some retailers are also trying to make online orders more convenient. Electronics and appliances retailer Abt recently began testing free same-day shipping for orders placed before 2 p.m. Target is doubling the number of employees focused on fulfilling online orders from stores, and Nordstrom will offer 24-hour curbside pickup at certain stores in December, including its Oakbrook Center and Michigan Avenue locations.
Consumers placed about 50% more orders online for in-store pickup during the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday last year than during the same period in 2017, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online sales during the holiday season.
But ordering online for same-day pickup isn’t a surefire way to shortcut Black Friday lines. Macy’s typically doesn’t let online shoppers place orders for pickup at a store when an item is selling out fast. If you want a Target doorbuster deal, you can’t use the retailer’s same-day home delivery service, and not all Black Friday deals will be available for in-store or curbside pickup. Curbside pickup will not be offered on Thanksgiving.
Whether you’re buying online or heading to the store, it’s worth doing some research to make sure deals are as good as they seem, Sheehy said. Some doorbuster products are created specifically for Black Friday sales, making it tougher to assess how steep the discount really is, she said.
She recommends comparing advertised discounted prices to current prices and comparison shopping using retailers’ Black Friday ads. Shoppers can also check retailers’ policies around matching prices and any fine print, such as whether the deal will only be available for a limited time, or whether a shopper must be in line early enough to grab a ticket entitling them to make a purchase.
“Retailers are releasing their Black Friday sales earlier and earlier, so people already know what’s going to be on sale. Do your due diligence, look through the ads, and see whether there’s anything that really jumps out,” Sheehy said.