It's going to be a year unlike any other in the land of shopping. Black Friday 2010 is shaping up to be one mammoth sale season extending from late October to Christmas, and that's only part of what's new this year. With the economy still down and interactivity at an all-time high, it's going to take a lot of high-tech creativity to part shoppers from their limited dollars. Here's what's you can expect:
- You're going to spend more, but not much more
Belts will be loosening all over America on Black Friday, but that will mostly be from turkey overload. While economists say the bleak part of the recession is over, most of us still beg to differ. The National Retail Federation says this year people will spend an average of $7 more than they did last year, which wouldn't even get you an extra Sing-a-Ma-Jig. What do you think? We asked early shoppers at the Manhattan Mall and here's what they had to say:
- You'll buy more online, and on your phone
The leap from thinking about a gift to buying one is closing, thanks to social media and smart phones. Last year, 42% of holiday shoppers did some online shopping, according to the NRF. This year, you can expect that number to jump significantly, as even Great Grandma has high-speed Internet and knows what to do with it. And expect the growing trend of getting coupons and alerts on your phone to convert people to clicking through and buying stuff on their phones, which they've been reluctant to do so far except for song and app purchases.
- You'll shop in a pop-up store
With more than 600 Toys R Us pop-up stores to choose from, and empty mall space being filled daily by the likes of Etsy, Piperlime, Harry & David, Tron and Glee, you'll no doubt stumble into one of these temporary shops. There's now a blog, Pop-up Insider, to track the ins and out of the fad, or shall we say, retail trend. The value of these quickie locations to consumers is that it allows customers to view and touch merchandise that you usually can only find online (in the case of internet-only retailers). It also allows consumers to get in and out faster with major retailers like Toys R Us and Borders.
- You're going to buy a mobile device — one way or another
You can, indeed, take it with you. And you will. We'll go out on a limb and say the likelihood of you buying some kind of mobile device this holiday season, whether for you or as a gift, is pretty much 100%. So what's it going to be? An iPad, the most coveted of them all, which probably won't be on sale? Or will it be a simple portable DVD player, which you could snag for under $25? Even if you are a naysayer, you at least will be buying accessories for the mobile devices you already have — songs, movies, cases or even just an iTunes gift certificate.
- If you go over budget, you're going to pay more
Credit card interest rates have skyrocketed in the past year and credit limits have been tamped down. So if you're going to break the bank for your holiday spending, your options are pretty weak. If you charge a lot and don't pay it off at the end of the billing cycle, you're going to be hit with hefty fees. If you go past your new lower spending cap, you're going to get dinged. If you open up new cards to cover costs, you're going to hurt your credit rating in the long term if you can't pay them off or if you close them after the holidays. It's a lose-lose situation, so spend wisely.
- You're going to pay more with your debit card than ever before, and you'll get as many gift cards as you give
Because credit card rules have made buyers beware, more people than ever this year are going to pay with debit cards or cash instead, according to a recent survey. But what may start with good intentions could end up with fees — so watch out for overdrafts. This year will also be the biggest one yet for the gift card sub-economy, where you do actually end up living by the maxim "give and ye shall receive." Expect to get as many gift cards as you receive, basically canceling them out as a plus for anyone but the retailers, who count on people losing them or just forgetting to spend them.
- Now every day is Black Friday
dealnews started the slogan, "Where every day is Black Friday," and now everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon. Got a sale? Just add Black Friday onto the name and you've got yourself a media bonanza. Halloween weekend was the opening salvo in 2010, but it really started much earlier than that. Anyone remember the Black Friday in July sales events?
- Facebook is part of your plan
Now is the time to make your holiday wish list and cross-check it with social networking sites, particularly Facebook. Any retailer worth its salt is setting up special holiday promotions. Some have offers only available to Facebook fans, like Amazon's new promotion where you can give out iTunes gift cards via Facebook to your selected friends.
- You're not going to buy a 3DTV
Since the advent of big-screen HDTVs, nothing has looked less enticing! But don't try telling that to the manufacturers or the big retail chains trying to push these things. Sales have gone flat since most people already upgraded their analog TVs, so you can't really blame them for trying to push the latest, greatest non-craze. Just know that you don't have to buy into it. Remember the dealnews rule: The only real TV bargains on Black Friday are for smaller, off-brand models.
- You'll buy practical items instead of luxury or kitsch
Get ready for an underwear and socks holiday season. It didn't thrill you as a kid, and it likely doesn't thrill you now. But practicality is going to reign this holiday season as the economy still falters, and more of the buying is going to be smaller items rather than big luxuries. The differences for retailers could be huge. The past few years, the hot ticket items were big-screen TVs at $1,000 or more. This year it's mobile devices well under $500, and most under $100. Even the hot toys are down-sized — no $400 ride-on dinosaur, but $1.49 packs of Silly Bandz.
- Even though the iPad isn't on sale, people are still going to buy it
And they'll buy iPhones and many other Apple products, all at very limited discounts at best, and at regular price with free shipping at worst. Resellers may offer the best prices on Mac computers, but all those discount-seekers at Walmart, Target and Best Buy hoping to score a sale on the hottest new thing are not going to be fulfilled.
- Out-of-stock toys are going to be jacked up more than normal by resellers
Marketplace resellers (e.g., Amazon Marketplace and eBay) are already out there scouring shelves for what will be the hottest items of the season. They're stockpiling them so that when they go out of stock, you'll have no choice but to get price-gouged because you're desperate. It's become such a process that there's a website to track what toys are in stock at the major retailers: HotToys2010.com. For instance, Toys R Us, Walmart and Target were out of stock of various Sing-a-Ma-Jigs after Halloween weekend, but Amazon had them from resellers for at least $5 more.
Beth Pinsker is dealnews' Editorial Director. She was most recently the Editor of WalletPop.com, and has been a life-long bargain hunter. Follow her on Twitter — @bethpinsker. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
For more great Black Friday coverage:
- Black Friday Ads
- Black Friday 2010 Predictions
- The Facts Behind 15 Black Friday Myths
- Toys Over $50 Hit Endangered Species List
- Behind the Scenes of Black Friday Ad Leaks