Although it might seem like Target is lagging behind its competitors when it comes to pre-Black Friday sales, could the perceived disparity just be semantics? While Walmart and Amazon have been trumpeting “pre-Black Friday” deals, Target has called its own early deals a “Home for the Holidays” sale and tucked it inside its weekly ad circular. Prices are good through Nov. 16, but some local Targets are extending the sales until November 27. Target has also released a Kids’ Gift Catalog, with prices good through Nov. 30. Whether Target’s Black Friday strategy will draw big shopping crowds remains to be seen.
Why is Target promoting its sales differently?
It may just be that Target and Walmart have different views about when the holiday season actually starts, or it could be that Target is less concerned than its competitors over the fact that there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
“For both our guests and team members, Black Friday is an exciting event that officially marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. By offering advance access to deals at Target.com and opening our stores earlier, we are making it easier for guests to build a Black Friday ritual that works for them,” Kathy Tesija, a Target executive, said in a statement.
“No matter where or when they choose to shop at Target, guests will be able to kick off their holiday shopping with deep discounts on a wide variety of the season’s most popular items,” she said.
Walmart, on the other hand, says it sees customers starting their holiday shopping right after Halloween.
“We know that our customers start shopping for the holidays on Nov. 1 because historically our traffic spikes the day after Halloween,” said Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com. “Customers want to relax with friends and family during the holidays, and with our early deals we are helping them make the most of their time and helping them stretch their dollars further.”
A shifting shopping tradition
Who’s right? Well, both are, in a way. Research conducted in October by Burst Media showed that the number of people who start shopping before Thanksgiving (39%) is closing in on the number who start shopping after the turkey is carved (44%). The rest (17%) are those of us who wait until the last minute.
When you shop also seems dictated by what you are shopping for. Savings.com president Loren Bendele told Consumer Affairs that sales on electronics usually peak in early to mid-November. Bendele believes that Black Friday in-store sales are becoming less important.
“I think people have soured on the madness of Black Friday,” he told Consumer Affairs. “The main reason is that they don’t have to do it anymore. You can go online and get the same or better deals.”
So is Target lagging behind, or is it ahead of the curve? Research by Valpak also suggests that while Black Friday isn’t gone yet, it may be on the way out. According to a survey cited by Valpak, 37 percent said they would shop on Black Friday, while 45 percent said they would wait until Cyber Monday to shop online. Amazon has made online shopping even more attractive by announcing a deal with the U. S. Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays.
Is Black Friday really on the decline?
So if the number of people shopping on Black Friday is declining, why are so many stores, Walmart and Target among them, opting to open on Thanksgiving Day? It could be this: The Valpak survey also showed that consumers who do shop on Black Friday spend $120 more than those who wait until Cyber Monday. Multiplied by thousands of shoppers, than can mean some serious change for retailers.