Why wait until Black Friday? In a down economy, shoppers are getting an earlystart on the holiday season
Whatever happened to last minute holiday shopping?
This season, even Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving when shopping goes into full swing — might seem a little late to start making a list and checking it twice.
Wary of the wobbly economy, retailers have started their holiday push earlier this year, with lots of interesting gift ideas and earlier-than-usual sales. And with good reason: Nearly 40 percent of shoppers in a survey for ecommerce service provider MarketLive said they plan to have all of their holiday shopping completed by early December. That's 10 points higher than last year.
In response to the sluggish economy, many retailers have kept their inventory levels low over the past two years, so consumers have learned that one way to find gifts they love is to shop early.
And they want a sale: 45 percent of those polled said they do not plan to pay full price.
A survey by the National Retail Federation indicates shoppers plan to spend a little bit more than last year and they may want to splurge a little more, too. The number of people putting jewelry on their wish list is up 13 percent; personal care and beauty items have moved up on the list, too.
While many consumers were rushing to stores buying candy for Halloween, Sears used last weekend to begin "Black Friday Now" deals. Kmart and Best Buy began specials Friday.
In the electronics area, retailers are already luring shoppers now with deep discounts on everything from televisions to computers. Like little kids who always want to be first in line, Sears, Best Buy and Amazon.com are pushing their way to the front of consumer consciousness with a steady stream of sales.
Amazon.com launched GoldBox, a stream of deals debuting every Friday through Nov. 19. Look for electronics, video games and other items that fall in the “Connect, Play, Watch and Listen” categories. The Sears Black Friday link takes shoppers directly to rotating electronics deals and the retailer reveals new deals each Friday and Saturday through Christmas.
Best Buy’s “Shop Early, Save Big” jumped on the weekend blowout bandwagon with discounts on cell phones, gaming products, televisions and computers. Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president U.S. marketing for Best Buy, said the weekly promotion running through Christmas, gives shoppers “a chance to get a jump start on holiday shopping.”
To no one’s surprise, Walmart is extending its early sales to cover electronics and toys, online and in-store. Arch-rival Target is getting in on the act, offering deals and coupons leading up to Black Friday and smart shoppers will find online-only sales on Thanksgiving, covering more than 170 items including toys, electronics and movies,
Toy prices are also lower. Walmart began weekly deals on toys last month and is offering free shipping. Target has already introduced a toy catalog with 48 coupons. Not to be outdone, Toys R Us is offering a free $10 gift card with a purchase of any Hasbro game of $35 or more. Zhu Zhu pets are so last year (although there are plenty of mobile rodent accessories available this year) but tried-and-true favorite like Barbie, Thomas the Train and Star Wars remain popular.
For those who prefer clothing and accessories, a stroll through department stores shows retailers are clearly in the mood to entice shoppers with sales and promotions. Pay attention to a retailer's website, Facebook and even Twitter page for exclusives and even pick up a newspaper for extra coupons.
A word of caution about supposed Black Friday ads floating around on the Internet. It could be the real deal quietly released by the major retailers to increase hype or straight-up misinformation. And nothing’s a bigger holiday bummer than finding out those boots you spotted online really aren’t 50 percent off after all.
Are you ready to get started on your holiday shopping now or do you plan to wait at least until after Thanksgiving? Express your preference now in our latest CulturePoll.