Forget the turkey; pass the shopping cart
by Staff Writer
As retailers compete to bring in more business on the biggest shopping day of the year, “Black Friday” might have to change its name.
Walmart and other popular big-box stores announced plans to open doors at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 – Thanksgiving Day. Target followed, announcing plans to open at 9 p.m., as did Toys R Us and Sears. Last year, Walmart opened at 10 p.m. Thursday, while Target opened at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
If opening doors early wasn’t enough to get shoppers in line for bargains, Walmart will provide additional incentives for customers. Those inside the store or lined up between 10-11 p.m. Nov. 22 will be guaranteed the chance to buy the Apple iPad 2, Emerson 32-inch LCD TV and LG Blu-Ray Player due to the “large quantity of product already secured.”
Customers will receive a “Guarantee Card” for the items, which must be paid for by midnight, if any of the items sell out by 11 p.m.
“We know it’s frustrating for customers to shop on Black Friday and not get the items they want,” Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Walmart, said in a statement. “This year, for the first time ever, customers that shop during Walmart’s one-hour event will be guaranteed to have three of the most popular items under their tree at a great low price.”
Bill Russell, president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, said he has spoken to many area retailers who are optimistic about the holiday shopping season. Retail figures probably won’t go back to the pre-recession numbers of 2006 and 2007, he said, but retailers seem to have positive expectations.
“Last year, we went into (the holiday season) rather cautiously,” Russell said. “But money is starting to flow back out into our community.
Shoppers wanting an extra advantage can also download a cell phone app that tracks Black Friday ads, wish lists, cashback opportunities and daily coupons. BlackFriday.com released the app, available for the iPhone and iPad, on Nov. 1. It’s available for free through the iTunes store.
Last year’s Black Friday sales hit record levels, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail industry advocacy group. The firm reported that sales increased by 6.6 percent from 2010, to a total of $11.4 billion. The federation expects total holiday sales to jump by about 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion.
Matthew Shay, NRF CEO and president, said retailers started offering holiday deals before Black Friday.
“In order to win over savvy shoppers this year, retailers are well aware that their deals have to stand out, and it looks like there’s plenty of people eager to get their hands on the exclusive promotions we are already seeking,” Shay said. “With more promotions to come, gift givers will have ample opportunities this season to seek out the perfect gift – either for themselves or for others.”
In an NRF survey, shoppers said about 60 percent of customers plan to buy fashion and apparel items or gift cards; 45 percent plan to buy toys; 52 percent plan to buy video games, videos, DVDs, books and CDs; 32 percent plan to buy electronics; 24 percent plan to buy personal care items or cosmetics; and 33 percent plan to buy food or candy.
More than four in 10 shoppers also will use debit cards as their primary form of payment, about a quarter will use cash and about 3 percent will use check. About 29 percent of shoppers will charge their gifts.