A survey by Persuadable Research for online shopping guide dealnews.com, however, found just 46 percent of respondents plan to “definitely” shop on Black Friday this year, a 12 percent drop from those who took to the stores in 2008.
Many are turned off by the long lines and rudeness from fellow shoppers, the survey shows. But for others, it’s a function of the economy, says Kathy Grannis, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation in Washington.
“It is safe to say that Black Friday is no longer the beginning of the holiday shopping season,” she says, noting retailers are finding new ways to reel in reluctant consumers. “More than 80 percent of shoppers this year said they planned to spend less on holiday merchandise, so in order to win them over retailers are coming out with hard-to-beat promotions two to three weeks early.”
Sears, K-Mart and Toys 'R Us did a lot better than that, rolling out Christmas in July sales over the summer.
E-tailers, including Amazon.com and eToys, which targeted last-minute shoppers in 2008 with e-gift cards guaranteed to “make it on time,” are also expected to promote themselves heavily to virtual buyers in the final days before Christmas.
Indeed, retailers no longer limit themselves to a single sales event, says Grannis, adding doorbuster deals on electronics, clothes and other gift items are expected to be robust throughout November and December across all retail categories.
“Retailers are all competing with each other right now,” she says. “There’s no definite line anymore of where people shop. Price wins out every time. You have department stores competing with discounters.”
Wal-Mart Stores , which offered the Xbox 360 gaming console for $199 with a free $100 e-gift card earlier this month, led the charge for 2009.
“They call them pre-Black Friday sales and they’re often as good, if not better, than a typical Black Friday promotion,” says Dan de Grandpre, editor of dealnews.comin Huntsville, Ala. “Wal-Mart’s Xbox deal, in fact, was matched by Amazon.com , which created a little price war. We love price wars.”
So does Ian Story, 31, a Seattle resident and online shopper who trolls the Web for hot deals two to three times a day — particularly this time of year.