Retailers are letting shoppers access some of the lowest prices of the year with many deals available long before the Black Friday rush arrives.
Gap, for example, sent mailers to its credit card holders earlier this month offering 60 percent off “Black Friday” discounts for all store merchandise that began Thursday and run through Monday — more than a week before Black Friday’s arrival.
Aggressive advertising of deep discounts on par with Black Friday sales is happening earlier every year, leading to the “graying” of Black Friday that spreads out shoppers’ spending throughout the month of November.
Shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, however, only 35 percent of respondents said they planned to do a majority of their shopping on Black Friday, down from 51 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2015.
An increasing number of survey respondents, 11 percent, said they planned to do a majority of their shopping the weekend before Thanksgiving, drawn by deep discounts, up from 6 percent last year and only 5 percent in 2015.
“Black Friday has become Black November,” said Steve Barr, PwC’s U.S. consumer markets leader. “As soon as the calendar flips to November, many of the retailers have begun to promote a significant portion of their deals. We’ve had this highly competitive environment since the recession and many retailers are fighting for their own survival.”
Chalana Ferguson, 40, of Florissant, said she noticed retailers’ ads for Black Friday pricing earlier this month, when she saw deep discounts on coats around Veterans Day. The ads spurred her to shop at the St. Louis Galleria on Tuesday afternoon, more than a week before Black Friday.
At the Galleria, a sign in front of the Disney store proclaims “Black Friday Now!” with toys starting at $10. The Sunglass Hut nearby also beckons to customers with a “Black Friday Early Access” sign.
“I want to avoid the rush,” Ferguson said as she exited a Macy’s store, shopping bags in hand.
Ferguson usually joins the throngs of shoppers on Black Friday, but early sales mean she might not have to.
Target and Best Buy are among the retailers that already rolled out merchandise this month with “Black Friday” promotional pricing. Best Buy stores will open on Thanksgiving at 5 p.m., close at 1 a.m. on Friday and reopen Friday at 8 a.m.
Target stores will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but in a change from last year, the chain will close at midnight and reopen at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. Last year, Target stores stayed open through the night.
The Minneapolis-based discount chain said nearly all deals will be available on its website, target.com, early on Thanksgiving morning, making a trip to a store unnecessary.
Target is advertising a $29 Black Friday price for Google’s new Home Mini personal home assistant, for example, $20 lower than the regular price. Customers who buy the device also get a $10 Target gift card, whether they make the trek to a store or snag the deal online beginning Nov. 23. Customers who have Target’s Red Card credit card can get access to more than 150 Black Friday deals beginning the day before Thanksgiving.
Last week, e-commerce giant Amazon released some Black Friday deals with sale prices valid between Nov. 17 through Nov. 24 (Black Friday). On Nov. 22, the evening before Thanksgiving, Amazon said shoppers can access select Black Friday deals by using the its voice-activated Alexa virtual assistant on Echo and other devices.
In an effort to attract customers before the holiday rush, Kohl’s department stores offered $15 in Kohl’s store credit, called Kohl’s Cash, for every $50 spent in the store or online on Nov. 1 — the first time customers were able to get this deal outside of Thanksgiving week. The offer will be available again from Nov. 20 to Nov. 25. Kohl’s stores will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year.
J.C. Penney will once again open earlier this Thanksgiving, starting at 2 p.m., versus last year’s 3 p.m. opening time. J.C. Penney stores will remain open until 10 p.m. Black Friday.
Other retailers open on Thanksgiving are Toys R Us, which will be open for 30 hours straight, beginning at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and remaining open until 11 p.m. Black Friday. Macy’s stores will also be open through the night, opening at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. Black Friday.
The majority of Walmart’s Black Friday deals will be available on the retailer’s website just after midnight on Thanksgiving morning, with in-store sales events beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Walmart stores are open all day on Thanksgiving.
Shoppers said they expect to spend an average of $967.13 this holiday season, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, a 3.4 percent increase from last year.
The NRF forecasts that U.S. holiday retail sales between November and December will increase between 3.6 percent and 4 percent this year compared to last year, reaching up to $682 billion.
Fifty-six percent of shoppers said they started holiday shopping in early November versus 49 percent in 2008 when the NRF began tracking this statistic.
“Consumers have started but they still have quite a ways to go,” said Katherine Cullen, the NRF’s director of retail and consumer insights.
PwC’s holiday forecast is a bit higher than the NRF’s, with an estimated increase of 6 percent for gift shopping, travel and entertainment. High-income shoppers, particularly those with household incomes above $100,000, are fueling the projected increase over last year. Continued growth in equity markets, high consumer sentiment and wage growth for higher income workers contributed to the increased forecast, Barr said.
CBL Properties announced earlier this year that it will once again close its four St. Louis area malls — West County Center, South County Center, Mid Rivers Mall and St. Clair Square — on Thanksgiving and reopen from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Plaza Frontenac and Chesterfield Mall will also be closed Thanksgiving and reopen at 8 a.m. Black Friday.
Despite those closures, throngs of shoppers are still expected to visit malls on Thanksgiving to get a head start on Black Friday deals.
The St. Louis Galleria will be open from 6 p.m. to midnight Thanksgiving for retailers that choose to open on the holiday, and the mall will reopen from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Black Friday. Alton Square Mall will also be open from 6 p.m. to midnight Thanksgiving, reopening at 6 a.m. Black Friday.
Both Chesterfield outlet malls will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. St. Louis Premium outlets will stay open until 2 a.m. Black Friday and reopen four hours later. Taubman Prestige Outlets will close at midnight Thanksgiving and reopen at 6 a.m. Black Friday.