With Black Friday-a name used loosely, as many retailers are posed to open their doors during Thanksgiving Day this year-right around the corner, companies are ramping up efforts to attract a larger piece of sales.
Minneapolis-based Target Corporation, which is one of several retailers set to open at midnight on Black Friday, on Monday revealed its doorbuster deals. They include a 46-inch Westinghouse HDTV for $298, a Nikon video digital camera for $99.99, and a 4-GB Xbox 360 video game system for $139.99.
Richfield-based Best Buy Company, Inc., earlier this month began sharing its deals, which it and most other retailers used to keep closely guarded until Thanksgiving Day for fear that competitors would match their prices.
Mpls.St.Paul magazine Senior Editor Allison Kaplan has been providing Black Friday updates through her weekly Shop Girls radio program. Her Ali Shops blog also provides a roundup of some of the key events that are taking place even prior to midnight on Black Friday. For example, the first wave of openings at Albertville Premium Outlets occurs at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day-the same time Best Buy starts screening Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in the parking lots of select stores. Kaplan also recently chatted on-air with retail guru Tina Wilcox, CEO and creative director of Minneapolis-based Black, a Retail Branding Agency. (The discussion is archived here.)
Kaplan pointed out that although there has been growing support for "Small Business Saturday"-a day dedicated to supporting small businesses during the busy holiday shopping weekend-many boutiques and small businesses are also looking to attract customers through Black Friday deals. (Mpls.St.Paul offers a list of such boutiques.)
"Black Friday sets the tone for the whole holiday shopping season," Kaplan said.
But retailers are exploring their limits when it comes to Black Friday. The Star Tribune reported that experts and some retailers admit that the increasingly aggressive Black Friday tactics don't really boost sales the way that images of mobs rushing the stores seem to suggest; the frenzy is more defensive, in the sense that retailers need to open earlier and cut prices deeper so they don't lose sales to competitors.
That echoes comments made recently by Dave Brennan, professor of marketing and co-director of the University of St. Thomas' Institute for Retailing Excellence. A survey conducted by Brennan found that Twin Cities residents plan to spend more this holiday season. He said that with the high expense of increased hours of operation during Black Friday, he's "not so sure this is going to be sustainable for the long run."
The Star Tribune recently reported that the anti-Black Friday movement is gaining strength. First, an unhappy Target store employee in Omaha started a petition through change.org to disrupt the retailer's plans to open earlier this year; that petition reportedly drew 190,000 names and was delivered to Target on Monday. Then a Best Buy employee also protested a planned midnight opening, according to the Star Tribune.
But stores appear set to open earlier than ever this year, and The Wall Street Journal reports that "Cyber Monday"-a day of online shopping deals typically occurring on the Monday following Thanksgiving-is also creeping earlier this year, in some cases pushing deals ahead of Thanksgiving and in other instances even overlapping with Halloween.