Black Friday used to call for an early bedtime for bargain hunters. But this year, those who bother to sleep after Thanksgiving dinner, will be those who weep. Shopper Alexis Davis says "oh its going to be crazy, yeah, I do Black Friday. I'm going to get up really early, or stay up all night."
The opening volley begins earlier than ever this year, as Toys R Us puts over 150 door busters up for grabs at 9:00pm Thanksgiving night!
Not to be outdone, Wal-mart begins the first of three themed sales at 10:00pm. Market Manager for the Southeast, Jeff Eversole says "its all about being in a competitive market. It's all driven by what our competition does and how do you stay ahead of your competition."
Toys, movies, video games, and items for the home will be heavily discounted during Wal-mart's first round. "Our customers are already arriving at the store on thanksgiving night, 6, 7, 8 o'clock to get in line for the special items, so we decided to make it a little more convenient this year," says Eversole.
Wal-mart's second sale begins at midnight, focusing mainly on electronics. The third offering gets underway at 8:00am Friday with guns and tires. Eversole says "its going to be an exciting day, our whole goal was to take the normal one time start and to spread it out to give our customers a better opportunity to come in at a specific time."
Shopper Regan France ventures out on Black Friday. "Actually I hit that at like 2:00am last year so that was pretty cool. We saved about $300 bucks." But 2:00am with be two-hours too late at many locations this year.
Best Buy, HH Gregg, Kohls, Ace, and Target all unlock their doors at midnight. "The guests are there, waiting and ready and wanting it," says April Voigt with Target.
While some traditional Black Friday shoppers may not like the earlier start times, stores may be on to something. A National Retail Federal survey finds 152-million people plan to shop over the Black Friday holiday. That's up from 138-million last year.
Davis says she's ok with it, and she'll be among them. "It just helps out people that are already up that late at night and the people that are going to wake up later are not going to get as many things that they want."
Over a dozen stores in Hamilton Place Mall will join the midnight frenzy, with Belk and J.C. Penney holding off until 3:00am. The rest of the mall opens at 4:00am. Catherine Wells, Hamilton Place, says "we'll be doing our usual rise and rewards program, where the first 500 shoppers that show up at customer service will receive a mystery envelope with a gift card. Each gift card is valued at anywhere from $10 to $100."
And while Amazon and other online retailers may price matching bricks and mortar store door busters, don't count on traditional retailers to double dip. Several of the door busters in Wal-mart's ad will reportedly be in store only, including the $10, $15, and $28 video games.
Don't forget to check the facebook pages of you favorite retailers on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday. Some stores plan to announce unadvertised door busters and provide printable coupons through social media. Now that the ads are printed and out there, that's the best way they can update prices and offerings.