There may be some sleepy people at Thanksgiving dinner this year.
Major retailers Walmart and Target have announced that almost all of their Black Friday door-buster deals will be available online starting in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning. With online retailer Amazon.com traditionally matching or beating those prices, online traffic is expected to be heavier than ever this year.
That’s good news for consumers who don’t want to sleep on sidewalks, fight through crowds or miss their favorite football game to stand in line before retailers open their doors for Black Friday deals.
But it’s bad news for consumers who want the deals and like to sleep.
For example, Walmart — which says 96 percent of its Black Friday door-buster deals will be online this year — said its sale would start at 2:01 a.m. CST Thursday. If you wait until you wake up, say 7 a.m., you likely will be out of luck.
“Those deals will be gone by then,” said Jon Vincent, founder of EarlyBlackFriday.com.
Target has not said when it will start its Black Friday online sale, but you can bet it will be early.
So your first Black Friday strategy might be to sign up for email alerts through websites like Vincent’s or DealNews.com or the retailers themselves. (But don’t blame me if your spouse gets mad about hearing your phone go off in the middle of the night.)
Here are ten more strategies for Black Friday shopping:
1. Free shipping. Target added free shipping on any online purchase through the rest of the year, beating Amazon’s free shipping with a Prime membership. Neiman Marcus and Best Buy also have free shipping, and PetSmart is offering it on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Walmart and other retailers offer free shipping with a minimum purchase. As an alternative, see if your retailer allows you to pick up online orders in their stores, as Walmart, Macy’s and Sears do.
If you are a late shopper, on Dec. 18 almost 400 merchants — including all the major retailers — have pledged to offer free shipping with no minimum order requirements and guarantee delivery by Dec. 24. Check out those retailers at freeshippingday.com.
2. Best deals this year. WalletHub surveyed 8,000 deals from Black Friday ads for 30 retailers and found J.C. Penney has the highest overall discount rate at 68 percent, with Costco the lowest at 20 percent.
Discount rates may reflect that normal markups are higher at one store over another. But it still could be a good indicator of the best deals. Others top discounts are at Kohl’s (67 percent); online retailer Stage (64 percent); Groupon (64 percent); Belk (60 percent); and Macy’s (56 percent). Overall, the average discount for Black Friday was 40 percent.
3. Christmas past. Historic data is also good to look at. DealNews said the two top Black Friday stores last year were online retailers Amazon and Newegg. Among 562 editors’ choice deals — defined as at or close to the all-time low price — Amazon garnered a whopping 259 and Newegg 113. That compares with third place Best Buy at 75, Walmart at 60 and Target at 55.
“One of the myths we’re trying to dispel is that Black Friday is not worth it,” said Benjamin Glaser, feature editor for DealNews. “We don’t see that at all. It is the best time of the year for deals. It’s exemplary on the quality and quantity of the deals based on historic data and the prices for this year.”
4. No more foolin’ around. Vincent said it’s harder for retailers to trick consumers by placing items that aren’t deals in their ads.
“I remember years ago a GameStop Black Friday ad that had a lot of items for their regular price,” he said. “People have gotten smarter in terms of finding out what’s a good deal and what’s not.”
If you’re not sure, check Amazon’s prices, Vincent said. “If it’s cheaper than Amazon, it’s a good deal,” he said. Other places to do a quick check are www.ConsumerWorld.org or shop.pricespider.com.
5. Watch for early sales. RadioShack announced this week it’s making all of its Black Friday sales available in its stores on Wednesday. Sears and Toys R Us say they;re starting Black Friday door busters on Sunday for those who sign up for free loyalty programs. Kohl’s Black Friday prices start online Monday.
6. Store-wide sales. Some stores make it easy on us and just take a percentage off everything. For example, Old Navy will have a 50 percent off storewide sale on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The discount drops to 40 percent on Saturday and 30 percent Nov. 29 and 30.
7. Price matching. Last year, Walmart said it would match other retailers this year companywide on Black Friday, including Amazon. This year, Target has expanded its price-matching policy to include 30 retailers including Amazon and Walmart. Target also is doubling its adjustment period to two weeks after purchase. Best Buy and Penney will also price match certain stores.
8. Loyalty programs. Reward program participants at Toys R Us and Best Buy, and Target Red credit card customers will get earlier access to Black Friday deals. Also Amazon Prime members will see deals a half hour earlier than the public. Check with your favorite retailers. Sign-up is usually free.
9. Social media deals. Sign up for email notices. Check retailer websites and apps for “hidden” deals and coupons. Deals also might be found on retailer Facebook and Twitter pages or when you download their smartphone app. Many apps include maps of the store to show where Black Friday deals can be found.
10. Special orders. If the store runs out of a sale item, ask if they can order in your size and ship. Retailers are out to make deals, so asking for special favors at this time of year never hurts.
Teresa McUsic’s column appears Saturdays.
Black Friday deals
- Westinghouse 55” 1080p LED HDTV for $249.99 at Target
- Toshiba 49” 1080p LED HDTV for $149.99 at Best Buy
- $150 off Apple iPad Air 2 at Sam’s Club
- Xbox One 500GB console w/game, plus $60 Target gift card, for $299.99 at Target.
- Amazon Fire 7” 8GB tablet for $34.99 at Best Buy
- FitBit Flex Wristband for $59 at Walmart
- 60% off Samsonite luggage and a four-piece Protocol Goodwin Spinner luggage set for $39.99 at J.C. Penney.
- Bath towels for $2.99 each (normally $9.99) at Kohl’s.
- 20%-40% off Disney toys and apparel for kids at J.C. Penney
- 40% off apparel and accessories for women, men, kids and babies at Target.
- Kenmore 4.3-cubic-foot washer and 7.3-cubic-foot dryer, $799.98 for the pair (57% off) at Sears