Black Friday – the official name for the day after Thanksgiving, the day stores and businesses hope to see the ink in their ledgers turn from red to black – traditionally has marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
This year, Wal-Mart, the giant retailer, begins its Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving itself, no doubt leaving dinner clean-up chores to the less shopping-inclined members of the family circle.
Wal-Mart stores nationwide will start selling at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving. They will also offer a one-hour sale on special merchandise between 10 and 11 p.m., guaranteeing that everyone on the floor by 10 will be able to stock up on iPads, LCD TVs and various other electronic gadgets and gizmos.
Of course, Wal-Mart is hardly alone in its frenzy. Toys R Us, Sears and Target are all planning to open Thanksgiving night as they battle one another for the $586 billion expected to be spent this year on holiday gifts and geegaws.
Will shoppers respond to the earlier times? It’s hard to say.
4 in 10 Shoppers Started Christmas Shopping before Halloween
In a couple of recent online polls, more than 40 percent of responders said they would prefer to wait until Friday to spend. Of course, many consumers have already begun their yearly buying ritual: The National Retail Federation’s 2012 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey reports that four in 10 shoppers began stalking the aisles well before Halloween.
In any case, there’s no need to worry. If the L-Tryptophan is making you and yours just too drowsy to venture out to the mall on Thursday evening, there will still be plenty of bargains left to grab beginning on the real Black Friday morning, just a few hours away.
In fact, virtually every decent sized brick and mortar store in the country, as well as every online retailer with a cyber-cash register, has promised to slash prices and proffer deals just too fantastic to ignore.
Black Friday Sales to Watch
Here are some bargains scraped from various blogs and Black Friday websites:
- Kmart’s Proscan 50-inch HDTV – $288
- OfficeMax’s 2 terabyte hard drive – $64.99
- Radio Shack’s SanDisk 32 gig flash drive – $9.99
- Target’s Nook e-reader – $49
- Walmart’s Vizio 60-inch LED HDTV – $688
- Amazon.com – Dell Inspiron laptop – $429.99
- Aéropostale – 60 percent off everything except perfume and beauty products
- JCPenney – Sales on women’s boots, purses and coats
- Macy’s – 25-50 percent off women’s sportswear
So whether your start time is 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, 12 a.m. Friday or – for all you slug-a-beds who just can’t get into buying mode until the relatively late liftoff hour of 5 a.m. Friday – the bins promise to be overflowing with the things you just can’t live without.
For those of you who simply hate long lines or fear being crushed by a wave of maniacal bargain hunters, well, you can always wait until Cyber Monday. That’s the day dedicated to online shopping after Thanksgiving weekend, when the digestive tract has snapped back to neutral and buyer’s remorse has only just settled in.
P.S.: Retail’s dirty little secret is that many stores and ecommerce sites that advertise their Black Friday discounts are already quietly offering them to shoppers right now as “early bird” specials. Check to see which brands are shamelessly fudging the calendar even more.
Soon we’ll all be shopping for Christmas in July.
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].