For more of my holiday expectations:
A tremendous amount of Holiday and Black Friday news in the past few days. Let’s jump right into it:
Walmart & BestBuy Released their Black Friday Promotions “Early”
Walmart released their planned Black Friday promotions early. The trend of pre-releasing Black Friday promotions instead of holding them until the week of Black Friday began last year. Many retailers stopped fighting sites like bfads.net, FatWallet.com and BlackFriday.com who were publishing leaked circulars and instead beat them at their own game. In 2010, Walmart released their Black Friday ads on November 22nd. In 2011, they released their Black Friday promotions on Thursday November 10th – which was exactly two weeks and a day prior to Black Friday. This year, Walmart released their promotions on Thursday November 8th – the same timing of two weeks and a day in advance of Black Friday. BestBuy released a 22-page preview of their Black Friday ad (see more on this below). This was a truly early release. Last year BestBuy released their Black Friday promotions on November 20th.
As Predicted – Stores are Opening Earlier
As I predicted after last year’s Black Friday, stores are opening earlier this year. BestBuy is sticking with a midnight open, but Walmart moved from 10PM to 8PM and Target is rumored to be opening at 9PM (having opened at midnight in 2012). Here is a table comparing opening times in 2011 and 2012.
[table id=19 /]
As I’ve written about, we’ve seen multiple retailers offering a variety of guarantees. Toys ‘R Us has apparently had success with their new for 2012 Hot Toy Reservations program. The program – which was announced around September 14th, a full 10 days before the official first day of fall and 6 weeks before Halloween – essentially allowed parents to guarantee availability of a number of hot holiday toys by pre-ordering them. This year, Walmart is guaranteeing inventory of three tech items to whomever shops the store Thanksgiving night. I can’t wait to see this executed in practice because surely it is a monumental task to ensure the correct levels of inventory across thousands of store locations. If any of the items sell out, shoppers can purchase a Guarantee Card which will ensure that they’ll get the item before Christmas at the advertised Black Friday price, but with so many stores and such a diverse group of individuals I still look forward to seeing this executed.
Two of the three products (the Apple iPad 2 and Blu-ray players) are items I predicted would do well during the holiday season meaning the demand for these particular deals could be very steep. This could be especially true for the Apple iPad 2. CEA research shows tablets will be the gift everyone is buying (and requesting). It will also be interesting to see how these type of offerings and promotions impact Black Friday in future years. Part of what creates the frenzy of Black Friday is that door-buster inventory is quickly depleted. This draws shoppers out early.
Bundling Multiple Items and Bundling with Gift Cards Continues
Bundling is a practice we have seen successfully employed in past years and it is a continuing trend this year. For products that hold tight MAP, retailers in past years have bundled these purchases with gift cards. As I mentioned above, this year Walmart is offering the Apple iPad 2 for $399 bundled with a $75 Walmart gift card. This represents nearly a 20 percent discount.
Tablets Still Looking Like the #1 Holiday Item
It should come as no surprise that I’ve been predicting all year that tablets would be the #1 holiday item. New products typically see more than 50% (and it can be 80%-90%) of their total annual sales show-up in the final quarter of the year. As a product category matures this figure declines but tablets are still new enough that I expect 50% or more of total 2012 annual sales will occur in the fourth quarter. Right now, there are some 123 Black Friday tablet promotions showing up in Black Friday circulars. This number will surely rise as the final circulars are released. This figure far surpasses the total number of listed Black Friday promotions for a number of other perennial Black Friday favorites like GPS (roughly 40 promotions listed promotions), hard drives (26 listed promotions), DVD and Blu-ray Players (38 promotions listed), or digital picture frames (8 listed promotions).
Expect to See Black Friday Deals Throughout the Entire Week of Black Friday
We’ve see again in 2012 that stores are opening even earlier and subsequently creating longer hours during Black Friday. On Monday October 22nd, Amazon kicked off limited and timed Lightning Deals on top-rated toys and is offering multiple specials daily through November 18th. On November 1st Amazon also began their “Countdown to Black Friday” promotions. Last year hhgregg extended their Black Friday prices for the entire week of Black Friday. In 2010, Walmart began promoting CyberWeek rather than just CyberMonday. I expect to see other retailers follow a similar pattern in 2012 – either they will match Black Friday pricing for the entire week or they will additional deals during the week of Black Friday. Here is a recent advertisement from Staples alluding to “Black Friday week” promotions.
Samsung Disappearing from the BestBuy Black Friday Circular?