Black Friday Moves to Thursday as Stores Woo Shoppers
Big-box stores have been opening earlier every year to lure Black Friday shoppers, with some kicking off door-buster sales as early as Thursday night.
The National Retail Federation estimates that 138 million consumers will flood stores Friday through Sunday, searching for big discounts on HDTVs and video games. While that’s up almost 3% from last year, the competition to attract budget-conscious shoppers has never been stiffer.
Toys ‘R’ Us will be one of the first retailers to begin Black Friday sales, opening at 10 p.m. Thursday. That will give the toy chain a two-hour headstart before rival Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT – News) opens its doors at midnight.
Here’s a guide to store hours at national retailers, with a few tips for what to expect when you get there:
Opens: Midnight, Thursday
Wal-Mart announced last week it will open most of its stores at midnight on Black Friday. The announcement also confirmed the veracity of a leaked copy of the retailer’s sought-after Black Friday circular. That circular featured such deals on electronics as an Emerson 32″ LCD HDTV for $198, Nintendo DS Lite for $89 and a Magnavox Wi-Fi Blu-ray player plus $10 in free VUDU movie credits for $69.
Opens: 4 a.m., Friday
Even though Target (NYSE: TGT – News) has been keeping a tight lid on its Black Friday sales, the company plans to attract the early birds with a 4 a.m. opening. If you want to be the first to find out what its Black Friday sales will be, you can sign up for its e-mail alerts on door-buster sales.
Toys ‘R’ Us
Opens: 10 p.m., Thursday
Can you still call it Black Friday if it starts on Thursday? Toys ‘R’ Us seems to think so. The toy giant will be kicking off its Black Friday sale at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (it will last until 1 p.m. on Black Friday), hoping that eager shoppers will have shaken off their food comas by then.
Toys ‘R’ Us offered a sneak peek at a few of the deals that will appear in its Black Friday circular, which won’t be released until Thanksgiving Day. These deals include a free $50 Toys R Us gift card when you purchase an iPod Touch, as well as $9.99 for select Nintendo DS and Wii games.
Opens: 5 a.m., Friday
Best Buy (NYSE: BBY – News) has already had a slew of sales on the weekends leading up to Black Friday, but as for the big event, the electronics retailer will be opening its doors at 5 a.m.
Many stores will be giving tickets to customers who line up from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., in an effort to quell massive crowds. In a preview of the sales, Best Buy is selling a number of PlayStation 3 and Xbox games for $35 and it also has many $10 movies up for grabs.
Opens: 4 a.m., Friday
Starting at 4 a.m. on Black Friday, Macy’s (NYSE: M – News) will offer discounts on everything from electronics to beauty items.
Deals include: Literati E-Reader from Sharper Image for $99, Martha Stewart Collection Enamel Cast Iron 2.75qt Casserole for $19.99 and $99.99 Tommy Hilfiger Leather Jackets.
Opens: 5:30 a.m., Friday
RadioShack (NYSE: RSH – News) isn’t even paying lip service to the traditional start date: The retailer already started offering sales on Sunday. However, if you want to hit the store on the big day, you’ll have to wait until 5:30 a.m.
So, what does “The Shack” have to offer? The company announced in a press release last week that it will offer the Samsung (KSE: 005930.KS – News) Galaxy Tab for $349.99, $50 less than the regular price. Also, if you want help finding your way to your next shopping destination, RadioShack is offering the Garmin nuvi 1300 4.3″ GPS Navigator for $99.99, a $70 discount.
Opens: 5 a.m., Friday
Kmart is taking a different twist on the holiday shopping season with its “Blue Friday” sales. The retailer’s 44-page “Blue Friday” circular cropped up on a number of websites recently, though a Kmart spokesman said the company couldn’t vouch for the ad’s authenticity. With that caveat in mind, there was a great deal for a 42″ plasma HDTV for only $400.
The deals in the circular are only available from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., but stores will remain open after that first six-hour period of deals has ended.
Opens: Midnight, Thursday (will also be open on Thanksgiving)
Old Navy has dubbed its sale Gobblepalooza (beating out RadioShack’s “Shack Friday” as our favorite sale name). While some deals are Friday-only, stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. You can return four hours later at midnight to shop the retailer’s Black Friday sales.
If you want to stock up on apparel, this is the store to hit on Black Friday. Old Navy has children’s jeans for $10, adult jeans for $15 and adult sweaters for $15, too.
Opens: 7 a.m., Thursday
Sears (NasdaqGS: SHLD – News) will open for the first time ever on Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. until noon, hoping to capture shoppers with appliance discounts.
While the Sears Black Friday sales have yet to be officially announced, the retailer will open at 4 a.m. and a leaked circular says that major deals will last until noon. Expect to see discounts on TVs and washers and dryers.
Black Friday Guide to the Best Deals and Steals
This year, you can start Black Friday shopping almost before the turkey is out of the oven: Toys “R” Us is among the retailers opening up shop early, starting at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night. In fact, many discounts have been available since October, since retailers have been competing with each other so fiercely to nab shoppers.
Despite the multi-week long lead-up to Black Friday, the day itself still packs a spending punch, with retailers pulling out even more freebies and price cuts. Are the deals strong enough to lure you out of bed before the sun comes up? That’s for you to decide. Here are the best spots to buy the hottest items this year, including electronics, toys, and clothes.
Best Buy (NYSE: BBY – News) is offering the Nintendo Wii for $169.99 and the Nook (Barnes & Noble’s E-reader) for $99.99 to a limited number of customers. Stores open at 5 a.m. Friday, but employees will start passing out tickets as early as 3 a.m. The store is also offering competitive prices on 3D and LCD televisions, expected to be two of the most popular purchases this holiday season as shoppers look to splurge more than they did last year.
Best Buy is also offering discounts on smartphones, but shoppers should focus more on monthly costs rather than the cost of the phone itself–which can be free after rebates, in some cases. The real expense is the pricey data plans. Virgin Mobile is now offering the most competitive offer, starting at a $25 per month on the Samsung Intercept.
Some shoppers looking for the normally priced $499 iPad will be able to buy the tablet for $399 at certain TJMaxx and Marshalls (LSE: MSLH.L – News) locations, although the stores will not reveal the exact locations in advance. So only a lucky few will be able to get the much-coveted iPad for that price; everyone else might as well buy it from Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL – News).
Video streaming devices such as Apple TV will be another hot family purchase. TheApple TV goes for $99 from Apple, with competitors following closely behind. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT – News), which will open to shoppers for Black Friday shopping from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., is offering multiple discounts on a variety of merchandize but they vary by location, so check online (and enter your zip code) before planning your visit.
For Household Appliances:
Sears (NasdaqGS: SHLD – News) has been offering its Black Friday deals on Fridays and Saturdays since the end of October, and they’re still going strong. Cyber Monday deals are also already available, with appliances and tools marked well below their normal prices. A $500 refrigerator is marked down to $400, for example, and a Samsung (KSE: 005930.KS – News) stainless platinum washer-dryer pair is almost half off at $750 each.
More than 200 Gap (NYSE: GPS – News) and Banana Republic outlet stores will open at midnight on Thursday. Specials include 60 percent off all items through Sunday at Gap Factory Stores, $10 zip fleeces for early customers, and a $25 women’s jacket. At Banana Republic, the first customers can score a $20 puffer vest and up to 50 percent off most items through Sunday.
Whether you’re looking for a singing Justin Bieber doll or limited edition Santa-ma-jig, Toys “R” Us is fully embracing Black Friday with discounts as well as giveaways. The toy retailer will give away hundreds of thousands of 64-packs of Crayola crayons and coloring books with any purchase while supplies last. Some 150 “super-deals” will begin when stores open at 10 p.m. Thursday and last through 1 p.m. Friday. Chief executive Jerry Storch calls it “the biggest Black Friday ever” for the store.
If you end up sleeping in Friday but still want the deals, Toys “R” Us will keep the party going through Cyber Monday, with up to 25 percent off on thousands of items starting just after midnight. The store will also throw in a 120-count box of crayons with purchases of $25 worth of Crayola products.
Early risers will get the biggest discounts at Disney Stores, which are offering 20 percent off almost all items before 10 a.m. If night shopping sounds better than getting out of bed when it’s still dark, consider taking advantage of the 130-plus Disney stores that are opening at midnight on Thanksgiving. Singing dolls are also among the hottest items, with an array of Disney Princess characters, from Ariel to Cinderella, belting out fairy tale favorites.
While shoppers might want to check out their local bookstores for reading suggestions and personalized touches, the fact remains that the lowest prices can be found online. “A couple of those big guys [including Target (NYSE: TGT – News), Wal-Mart, and Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN – News)] will really push their prices, and they’re paying a smaller wholesale price than everyone else,” says Brad Wilson, publisher of Brad’s Deals, a website that finds and publishes online coupon codes.
But if you want some hands-on attention, check out smaller bookstores such as R. J. Julia Booksellers, based in Madison, Conn., which has a new online service, “Just the Right Book,” designed to help you choose the best books for your friends and family, just as a helpful bookseller would do if you were to visit in person. After answering several questions about the gift recipient, the booksellers put together a list of the best books for that person. Then, you can arrange to have the books delivered regularly throughout the year. Five books for babies start at $99; four books for adults start at $90.
For Last-Minute Deals and Special Interests:
Some retailers are keeping their discounts under wraps until the last minute. For the latest developments before you hit the shops, check out Brad’s Deals’ site BlackFriday2010.com or DealNews.com. Before buying online, compare prices at PriceGrabber.com and look for discount codes at RetailMeNot.com. And before making any online purchase, always do a Web search for the retailer’s name and the words “coupon” to see if you can plug in any promotional codes for additional savings.
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