Walmart to Crash Thanksgiving With Early Black Friday Deals
Black Friday is arriving early this year, forcing some discount-hungry shoppers to choose between Walmart and pumpkin pie. Opening on Thanksgiving evening is a gamble, though. "What is happening is they are diluting the Black Friday brand," said Yumani's Michael O'Hara. "They are taking those dollars that people typically spend on Black Friday and are spreading them out."
11/10/12 5:00 AM PT
Walmart is opening its doors on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. local time. To persuade shoppers who may be digesting the biggest meal of the year to leave the comfort of their sofas, the retailer is offering door-busting specials at specific time slots.
Customers who are inside the store and standing in line between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time can purchase a 16-GB Apple iPad 2 with WiFi for US$399 and get a $75 Walmart Gift Card; an Emerson 32-inch 720p LCD TV for $148; and an LG Blu-ray player for $38.
Walmart will offer Guarantee Cards for these items if they happen to sell out before 11 p.m.; it will also make a slew of other items available at special prices on Thanksgiving night, but they will not come with guarantees.
For example, at 8 p.m., shoppers can grab an Xbox 360 4 GB + SkyLanders Bundle for $149; and at 10 p.m., they can snatch a Samsung 43-inch 720p 600 Hz Class Plasma HDTV for $378.
Walmart will be offering special prices all weekend long. For instance, at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, a Singer Sew Mate 5400 60-Stitch Sewing Machine can be had for $99.97.
Will It Work?
An HDTV for less than $400 is definitely a head-turning bargain, but is its lure great enough to get shoppers to interrupt a family holiday -- albeit one that is presumably almost over? It's a fair question, as setting an early Black Friday opening on Thanksgiving day has not been fully or widely tested, said Sheri Petras, CEO of CFI Group.
It looks like a desperate move by retailers that need to boost holiday sales, she told the E-Commerce Times. "I'm not so sure that customers, let alone retail employees, will want to leave Thanksgiving early and deprive themselves of their family and feasts in an effort to save money and shop."
It could be marginally effective, though.
"There was some experimentation with opening on Thanksgiving Day last year," noted Michael O'Hara, CEO of Yumani.
The reasoning behind these decisions is clear: "All these retailers want to scoop each other," he told the E-Commerce Times.
Walmart's Thanksgiving Day sales might prove to be effective initially, but in the long run, opening on Thanksgiving Day will either hurt the retailer or be a wash, suggested O'Hara.
"What is happening is they are diluting the Black Friday brand," he said. "They are taking those dollars that people typically spend on Black Friday and are spreading them out."
Black Friday Week
Another take on Black Friday, however, is that it is no longer considered just one day -- or for that matter, the day after Thanksgiving.
"At one time, the idea was that Black Friday was the cornerstone, or starting point, for holiday shopping, but that is no longer the case," said Nicole Larrauri, managing partner with the EGC Group."
Consumers have come to view time on their terms, and they want to shop for holiday bargains at a schedule that is convenient for them, she told the E-Commerce Times.
"People no longer have to wait for Thursday 8 p.m., for example, to watch their favorite TV show," Larrauri pointed out. They can record it, or watch it later on YouTube.
Thanksgiving has lost its sense of being untouchable by commerce, she said. "We saw signs of that last year when traffic at online stores on Thanksgiving Day surged."
Walmart did not respond to our request for further details.