As e-commerce becomes increasingly central to the Black Friday sales rush, retailers have to compete to offer shoppers the best prices — or else, with just a click or two, they could lose them to a competitor.
Likely in hopes of upending competition, some chains are ratcheting up their discounts higher than others this year. WalletHub, a personal finance website, reviewed nearly 8,000 Black Friday deals advertised by 29 major U.S. retailers in order to determine which are offering the best bargains. Four department stores — Stage, Belk, Bealls Florida and JCPenney — are promoting discounts north of 60% on average, with Stage’s reaching as high as 69.8%.
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Looking at apparel and accessories, the highest average deals (64.54%) are at Meijer, a Midwest supercenter chain that’s advertising Caterpillar work boots for $49.99 (down from $110) and Adidas Lite Racer sneakers for $25 to $30 (down from $50 to $60). It’s followed by JCPenney, Bealls Florida, Sears and Stage, all of which are advertising average discounts of more than 55%.
These findings indicate that mid-price department stores — a segment of the retail industry that’s been badly battered by online competition and America’s shrinking middle class — are counting on steep sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday to drive customer purchases. Retailers with healthier financials may not be so reliant on promotions to get them through the year: Target, whose stock has soared more than 90% this year on consistently strong results, is advertising average discounts of 34.3%, according to the report. Amazon, which now focuses its efforts on its own midsummer deals holiday, Prime Day, is touting discounts of just 25.4%.
Other department stores came in somewhere in the middle: Macy’s is offering 46.1% off on average, while Nordstrom, which recently opened its long-awaited Manhattan flagship and beat earnings expectations for the third quarter, is offering 36.9%.
The retailers with the biggest discounts aren’t necessarily the same ones customers are searching for, however. According to SEMrush, a marketing analytics firm, the top Black Friday sites by search volume are Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon, followed by Target, JCPenney and Macy’s. And while the most searched-for products are all gadgets of one kind or another, shoes are the third most-searched category, behind big-ticket purchases like laptops and furniture.
This year, according to an analysis by the search intelligence firm Captify of 41 billion monthly searches between Oct. 1 and Nov. 21, 2019, more than 46% of Black Friday searches contained a brand name, three times as many as last year. The most-searched fashion brand according to the report is actually a retailer — Macy’s — followed by Nike.
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