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Black Friday separates the 'purists' from the 'average Joe' shoppers

  • Early shoppers take advantage of retailers' pre-Black Friday sales, which have crept earlier and earlier in recent years.
  • Black Friday purists won't touch pre-Black Friday deals, or even venture out on Thanksgiving, because shopping on Friday has become a tradition.
  • "Average Joe" will shop a variety of sales and not choose a particular platform, while Cyber Monday fanatics are glued to their computers.
Shoppers take advantage of Black Friday sales at a Target store in Brooklyn, November 25, 2016.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Shoppers take advantage of Black Friday sales at a Target store in Brooklyn, November 25, 2016.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here.

Maybe you've been making plans for weeks to hit the mall after your Turkey Day dinner and get a jump start on holiday gifting, taking advantage of retailers' extensive deals and doorbusters. Or maybe you avoid leaving the house altogether — the thrill of standing outside a Best Buy, waiting for doors to open at 5 p.m., isn't for everyone.

This year, nearly 70 percent of Americans, or 164 million people, plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend, which spans from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation.

When consumers plan to shop on Thanksgiving weekend

Source: The National Retail Federation

The group's survey of more than 7,000 consumers found that Black Friday will still hold the title as busiest shopping day, with 70 percent of people planning to hit the stores then. Next in line is Cyber Monday, with 48 percent of people set to shop online for deals that day.

Looking to the eager and fearless bargain hunters, 20 percent of consumers, or 32 million people, plan to start shopping as early as Thursday, NRF found. Many retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, J.C. Penney, Macy's and Best Buy are opening their doors on Thanksgiving this year.

"While the utility of the weekend will continue to draw shoppers into stores and online to efficiently and inexpensively check off their lists, we're also seeing consumers report tradition and the opportunity to partake in holiday cheer as reasons for shopping, too," Prosper principal analyst Pam Goodfellow said in a statement.

"By now, people know what sort of deals they can expect to see during the weekend and are budgeting for them accordingly, and in many cases expertly."

Phillip Dengler, co-owner of Bestblackfriday.com, which keeps track of the weekend's deals, has watched the consumer landscape evolve. Here's what he sees.

Early shoppers

Early shoppers take advantage of retailers' pre-Black Friday sales, which have crept earlier and earlier in recent years.

Wal-Mart's Sam's Club, for example, held an annual "Lowest Prices of the Season" event on Nov. 11, which crashed the company's website because of so much traffic, Dengler noted.

Sears decided to put its entire store on sale ahead of Black Friday, while big-box retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's have had special "preview days" offering Black Friday-esque deals in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

"Early shoppers see sales like that as an example to get Black Friday prices early without most of the hassle," Dengler said. "Early shoppers will take advantage of the pre-Black Friday sales and sit on the sidelines when Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday get here."

Black Friday purists

If you fall within this group, Black Friday has become a tradition.

You won't shop the pre-Black Friday deals, or even venture out on Thanksgiving, because you want to stick to what you know best. The NRF found through its annual survey that 35 percent of consumers claim Black Friday to be "family tradition."

"People enjoy a challenge, and shopping on [Black Friday] certainly imposes a whole set of tactical difficulties," Dengler said. "When families work together to overcome those obstacles and come away with the best deals, they work as a team and enjoy the strength of their union."

Certain retailers could be considered "Black Friday purists," too. Companies including TJ Maxx, Nordstrom, Staples and Home Depot won't open their doors on Thursday, but keep their deals reserved for Friday only.

Here's a breakdown of the hours shoppers plan to hit the stores on Friday. The largest percentage, or 21 percent of those surveyed by Statista, plans to go before 8 a.m.

Cyber Monday shoppers

Cyber Monday fanatics will be glued to their computers as the weekend comes to an end.

Until recently, Cyber Monday was offering lower prices online for tech gadgets than one could find on Black Friday, according to Dengler.

"Since this group has online shopping figured out so well, they just skip in-store shopping and basically beat everyone else while sitting at home," he said.

Based on the NRF's survey this year, 48 percent of consumers, or roughly 78 million people, plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year. That compares with 36 percent of consumers saying they planned to shop online on Cyber Monday in 2016 and 34 percent in 2015.

For 2017, many analysts are speculating internet giant Amazon will steal the show. The company has already kicked off Black Friday-esque sales online.

'Average Joe'

"Average Joes" will slowly do their shopping, using a combination of in-store and online platforms. They will shop a variety of sales and not limit themselves to a particular day, i.e. Cyber Monday.

"We think this is the best strategy for a successful holiday shopping season," Dengler said.

The NRF found that younger adults, ages 18 to 24, are the most likely to increase their holiday spending this year from last year. And many of them would fall into the "Average Joe" category.

"With an additional full shopping weekend this December, consumers will have plenty of time to browse and complete their holiday purchasing," Goodfellow said.

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