New York AP – In their efforts to lure customers with big discounts, retailers are not waiting around for Black Friday.
Target, for example, was selling items at a discount Monday for a “Black Friday Preview Sale,” and announced plans to offer “early access” to Target credit card holders on Nov. 22, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
More than 100 Black Friday deals will go live that day on Target.com, the retailer said. It will be pushing sales on video game consoles, televisions, toys and other items.
The early sales are the “most deals we’ve ever offered ahead of Thanksgiving,” Target said in a news release Monday.
The move by Target marks part of a larger trend in which retailers have been promoting holiday sales well ahead of the traditionally discount-heavy Black Friday following Thanksgiving.
Kohl’s kicked off its holiday deals last week with a chance for shoppers to earn “Kohl’s Cash” (to get discounts off merchandise) on Nov. 1. It will also start offering discounts leading up to Black Friday online on Monday, Nov. 20.
Walmart started its seasonal discounts last weekend, during which it also kicked off a series of in-store holiday events and parties that it will host throughout the season.
Sears Holding Corp. is putting all the merchandise at all of its Sears and Kmart stores on sale for almost the whole month — through the Thanksgiving weekend. Discounts at the stores will range from 10 to 50 percent at Sears stores and 10 to 40 percent at Kmart.
This holiday season will be crucial for the struggling retailer, which hasn’t posted a profit since 2010. Sears leaders said earlier this year there was “substantial doubt” that it would be able to stay in business, and it recently announced it would close more stores next year.
Retailers in recent years have offered similar promotions in an effort to get shoppers into stores before Black Friday. While that has not worked well, according to researchers at the NPD Group, it does seem that fewer people will procrastinate in their holiday shopping.
According to NPD’s 2017 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, getting a late start to the holiday shopping season has become less common over the past decade, and this year will be the first when more U.S. shoppers shop during Thanksgiving weekend rather what they call “late in the season” — early December.
“The consumer that used to wait until after Thanksgiving weekend now shops during it,” said NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen in a news release. “Despite all the efforts in recent years to get shoppers shopping before Black Friday week, we see little to no movement early in the season, but the last-minute shoppers have moved their timing up.”
In kicking off that Thanksgiving weekend full of shopping, retailers’ plans vary for opening stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, especially as e-commerce has changed the way people shop during that week.
Target is breaking up its Thanksgiving and Black Friday hours, opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and then closing at midnight local time. The stores will reopen at 6 a.m. on Friday and stay open until 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or midnight, depending on the location. It’s a departure from last year, when it kept the stores open straight through the night.
Similar to last year, Macy’s stores will mostly open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and close at 2 a.m., reopening at 6 a.m. local time on Black Friday. Toys R Us, meanwhile, will open at 5 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving and remain open for 30 consecutive hours of shopping.
Outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI will, like last year, close not only on Thanksgiving but also Black Friday, instead promoting its “Opt Outside” campaign that encourages people to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving in outdoor spaces instead of shopping malls.
In the era of e-commerce, rushing to stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday is not as crucial to getting a good holiday discount as it once was, as many of the deals offered by retailers online are comparable with their in-store discounts. And consumers are driving that: According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, online is the most popular shopping destination this year for the first time in its survey history.
“While many consumers are holding off until November or later to start their holiday shopping, retailers should be prepared for high traffic online and in stores come Thanksgiving weekend as customers start tackling their lists,” Prosper Insights Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said in a news release from the NRF. “Although sales will remain an important factor for most consumers, many will lean on convenient locations and easy-to-use websites or mobile apps along with free shipping to complete their purchases.”