Walmart Black Friday 2011: ad kicks off early holiday shopping frenzy
Walmart Black Friday 2011 ad is whipping up Black Friday furor earlier than ever. But with long lines and huge crowds anticipated, is Walmart Black Friday 2011 really better than getting a jump on your holiday shopping this Veterans Day?
Walmart is getting an early start to Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The discount retail giant released its Black Friday adÂ Thursday, announcing that this year the storeâ€™s doors will open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night for discounts on home items, clothing, and toys.Â Electronics will go on sale two hours later, at midnight.
Among the items you can grab at 10 p.m. after your feast: a $67 ping pong table, a slew of DVDs for $1.96 apiece, and a 4-quart Crock-Pot for under $10 (regular price is closer to $25).
Perhaps as surprising as the deals is the timing of the ad for Walmart Black Friday 2011. Last year, Walmart didnâ€™t announce its Black Friday deals until Nov. 22, meaning this yearâ€™s revelations are coming a full 12 days earlier than before. But the early Walmart announcement is just the latest in a trend of stores getting an earlier and earlier start to the Black Friday rush: For the first time, Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic are opening their stores at midnight on Black Friday, joining Macy's, Kohl's, and Target, which have done it before.
â€śThanksgiving night openings are much more common now,â€ť says Dan de Grandpre, CEO of dealnews.com, a website that tracks sales at large retailers across the country. â€śDeals are going to be much better at that time. But you have to get up earlier and earlier, or those stores will be picked over.â€ť
The hubbub over the early Walmart announcement comes in the wake of projections for a fairly average holiday shopping season. Erik Johnson, an economist with IHS Global Insight, is predicting a 4.2 percent growth in overall holiday sales over last year. â€śTo put this in perspective, 2010 holiday sales were up 5.2 percent and 2009 sales were down 0.4 percent,â€ť Mr. Johnson says in e-mail.
Some are predicting more shoppers, however. According to Business News Daily, a recent consumer survey from the digital technology advertising company SocialVibe is projecting a 52 percent increase in the number of Black Friday shoppers from last year.Â That means longer lines and much bigger crowds, which may be part of the impetus for retailers to extend their hours. [Editor's note: An earlier version misspelled SocialVibe. It's one word.]
But Mr. de Grandpre insists that bigger crowds donâ€™t necessarily mean more buying. â€śThere will be a lot of window shopping,â€ť he said â€śParticipation in Black Friday will go up, but there will be more of a shift from in-store shopping into online shopping.Â The growth of online shopping has been many times higher than in-store shopping.
Johnson agrees. â€śE-commerce as a percentage of overall retail sales hit an all-time high in the second quarter of 2011, at 4.6 percent,â€ť he says.
Online retailers, too, are getting in on the Black Friday earlier than ever: Amazon.com has already launched a â€śCountdown to Black Fridayâ€ť section of its site, with early discounts on a wide array of products including cameras, TVs, DVDs, and toys.
According to de Grandpre, however, the pre-sales usually canâ€™t hold a candle to the real thing.Â â€śStores use terms like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to draw in shoppers, but that doesnâ€™t always mean good deals,â€ť he says. â€śIâ€™d be skeptical of discounts that sound modest, or that have a range.â€ť
He uses terms like â€śup to 30 percent offâ€ť as an example.Â
â€śJust because a store has a big sale doesnâ€™t mean the specific items are all that cheap. Macyâ€™s has a 20 percent off sale basically every Friday. Itâ€™s better to look at specific items for big discounts.â€ťÂ
Still, if you wanted to get a jump on the holiday rush this Veteranâ€™s Day weekend, for instance, there are certain benefits. â€śItâ€™s a contrast of convenience and savingsâ€ť versus the Black Friday rush, de Grandpre says. â€śBlack Friday is not a fun day to shop. The sales reps are always frazzled, and people are aggressive. Of course, online sales sort of take away those convenience concerns, and a lot of online sales these days are identical to whatâ€™s in the store.â€ť
And there are some decent deals to be found over the coming weekend.Â Home improvement retailer Loweâ€™s is offering deep discounts on major home appliances ($1,100 off a Wirlpool washer/dryer pair, for example), and competitor Home Depot is releasing its actual Black Friday prices this week.
You can also find bargains on clothing, at retailers like Kohlâ€™s and JC Penney, which is offering a wide variety of discounts this weekend, most notably 50-60 percent discounts on diamond jewelry.
â€śGiven the hassle, it's not really worth getting up at 3 a.m. on Black Friday for a sweater,â€ť de Grandpre says. â€śYou want to go for a big ticket item, like a TV or a laptop.â€ť