“Black Friday’’ – it’s become shorthand for “discount-crazed mobs, just hours after Thanksgiving dinner, swarming the shopping malls of America.’’
But more and more people these days are saying, effectively, “no thanks” and “I don’t believe the hype,’’ and Black Friday itself is stretching into something more like “Black Friday Week” at retailers like Kohls.com and Amazon.com, which has already begun a “Black Friday Countdown” promotion with big daily deals.
Fueling this rethinking of Black Friday: DealNews calculates that 70 percent of all the advertised in-store deals will be available online anyway without having to go to the mall in the middle of the night. Adobe Digital Index has calculated the single best day for savings isn’t Black Friday but Thanksgiving, with an average discount of 24 percent off listen prices.
And the National Retail Federation found in a recent survey that 31.6 percent of all Americans plan to wait and see what the deals are on Black Friday before committing to go out and shop on Friday. That’s up 2 percentage points from last year.
Sears is among stores planning plenty of “doorbusters” and will open at 12:30 a.m. on Friday in Massachusetts, store manager Ed Downey said. But when we interviewed him Friday, there were already loads of epic discounts – like $1,100 off a top-end refrigerator and hundreds off various T-V sets, and Downey said, “We have a promotional strategy that runs throughout the entire course of December right up to January 1st and beyond.’’
A central push for Sears this holiday season: an all-month-long 10 percent rewards program for “Shop Your Way” members, up to $500, which gives them up to $50 in store credits to use by Jan. 31. “It gives them time to do shopping after Christmas,’’ Downey said. “They may want to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales. They may need to purchase things for the home. Whatever the case may be, it's their choice.’’
Another comparable program: CVS on Sunday starts a week-long deal where for every $30 you buy worth of specially marked products – but typically things you really use every day, like Kleenex or makeup or household and grocery products – you can choose a $10 gift card from CVS, American Express, Apple, Darden Restaurants, or Macy’s.
Many retail experts say for categories like toys, you’re likely to find better discounts closer to Christmas. When we asked Downey whether he could envision sales between now and Christmas and Hanukkah that are as good as or better than Black Friday, he said, “I expect that you'll see as the competitive environment gets a little bit tighter as it gets closer to Christmas … I think the possibility exists that they could see deals as good as Black Friday.’’ Or as good as the retailers haven’t been able to wait until Black Friday to start offering already.
With video editor Lauren Kleciak and videographer Abbas T. Sadek