Black Friday, Cyber Monday, hot deals and hot gifts—those were the topics of my latest round of radio and television interviews.
We're hearing that November is off to a promising start for retailers, as cooler weather has helped spur purchases of scarves, heavy jackets and other cold-weather gear.
Retailers also have been luring customers into stores by marketing Black Friday-style deals ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
But that doesn't mean consumers are any less interested in hitting the malls on the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, with extended store hours at Sears , Toys 'R Us, Walmart and other retailers, some will be heading out to shop before or just after their turkey dinners. America's Research Group is expected the largest turnout ever at the storesbecause shoppers are so focused on bargains.
The radio stations I talked to wanted hard and fast tips about how to get the best deals on Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday , the first Monday after Thanksgiving. They also were interested to learn how to use smartphones and social media sites such as Facebookand Twitterto stay on top of the latest deals .
I think it's quickly emerging that social media is going to play an even bigger role in holiday shopping this year than we may have predicted. Retailers are doing a lot interesting things with their Facebook sites and consumers are sharing information about what they're buying on these sites. Some retailers are even providing customers who check into Facebook Places and Four Square with special deals and offers.
Our biggest piece of advice is to forget trying to snag the limited-quantity doorbuster deals—chances are you won't get them because there are diehards who will get there before you. In fact, there's one family that has encamped outside a Best Buy in St. Petersburg, Fla., since Nov. 17. That's dedication.
Instead, you're likely to be able to get a simliar deal by hunting online using price comparison Web sites such as Pricegrabber.com , search engines like Google and Bing, and Black Friday deal sites such as BlackFriday2010.com , BlackFriday.org , and Dealtaker.com among others.
Many of the radio hosts seemed to think that cozying up to the computer, in the comfort of your own home, was a better deal than braving the crowds. But, hey, everyone has their own holiday traditions.
My other word of advice: even if you snooze through Black Friday and sit out Cyber Monday, you'll still find good deals this season. That's mainly because that point about hot gifts, there really aren't many must-have products this year, so price will be the guide. And there will be other big discount days such as "free shipping day," which falls on Dec. 17, and should feature some big price breaks from online retailers.
But if you still don't have a clue on what to buy, there's always our gift guides in Consumer Nation's Holiday Central report .
Thanks to radio statations: WJJG's "The Mike & Matt Show," KIIM's "Porkchop," WRHB's "Best Life Barb," WLRW-Mix 94.5's "Kevin & Sarah," FM-100 WMC's Ron Olson, KAZR's "Moose, B-Sox & Amy", KYSM's Bill McKubby, Hollywood Outbreak.com, KEYW's "Big Jim & Stacy Lee," WPCV's Roger Todd, and WMKK's "Big Daddy" as well as TV stations: WESH-TV, NBCLA, KPNX-TV, WDIV-TV, WCNC-TV, WBBH-TV, KNSD, WSAZ-TV, NBC10, KXAS, WOOD-TV. It was great talking with you.
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