This year's Black Friday deals revolve around electronics--plenty of televisions, tablets, and laptops will be ripe for picking. The good news for shoppers who don't like getting up before dawn after a major feast is that many deals will be available even before Black Friday begins, and they don't have to leave the warmth of their home to score some of the biggest discounts.
Despite the opposition from employees that retailers faced last year when they opted to open their doors on Thanksgiving evening instead of waiting until Black Friday, many of them are doing it again this year. Target has announced it will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. Wal-Mart, Sears, and Toys 'R Us will open an hour earlier, at 8 p.m. Best Buy will open the doors to most of its stores at midnight.
The difference this year is that many holiday discounts started even earlier, and in some cases, before Halloween. Indeed, recent surveys suggest that most people are getting started on their shopping lists before Black Friday, and they're increasingly doing so by shopping online and with mobile devices. That's led some shopping experts to declare the declining importance of Black Friday itself.
Still, plenty of shoppers say they plan to take advantage of the traditional bonanza of steals and deals, even if it means forgoing sleep. According to a survey from PriceGrabber.com, 2 in 3 consumers say they will shop on Black Friday, and almost 1 in 10 say they'll get started Thanksgiving evening. Most people said they rally against post-turkey sleepiness because Black Friday simply offers the lowest prices.
Shoppers will be focused on home goods and electronics, particularly Android-based tablets, says Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com and BlackFriday2012.com. "Android tablets will be at an accessible price point, which is what it takes for an item to really take off. Yes, people bought a lot of iPads, but it's not a mainstream device at $500," he says. Wilson adds that he expects to see Android tablets approach the $100 mark this year, which could make them the new hot item, similar to e-readers last year.
Wilson's top 10 list of the best Black Friday deals include a Haier 32-inch HDTV for $97 on Amazon, an iPad 2 plus a $75 gift card for $399 as well as an Emerson 32-inch HDTV for $148 and $38 LG Blu-ray player at Wal-Mart, and one-quarter carat diamond earrings for just under $60 at Sears.
For kids, RetailMeNot.com's Kristen Nelson says the Furby, a furry pet that interacts with its owner, will steal the spotlight. Children, and their parents, are drawn to digital toys that can talk and interact, she adds.
Here's a roundup of what the biggest stores plan to offer this week:
Target: Target will unroll a series of discounts, starting with the first Black Friday customers to arrive at 9 p.m. Thursday evening. More discounts will be available to online shoppers with the Target REDcard who visit the website, and then another round of deals will be released at 4 a.m. Friday morning. Those early-bird deals include a Samsung 50-inch HDTV for $699 and a $10 Fisher-Price Doodlepro Classic, a drawing toy that usually goes for at least $20. Other Black Friday deals include a Nikon digital camera for just under $100 and classic board games for $7.
Sam's Club: Doors will open to members on Friday morning at 7 a.m., and shoppers can look forward to free Starbucks coffee to perk up their shopping trip. (The store will also launch Black Friday deals on its website starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday evening.) Top deals include an HP "Sleekbook" notebook for $399, a 65-inch HDTV for $998, and a Blu-ray DVD player for $38. A Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner will go for $249, and a six-piece Wolfgang Puck cutlery set for just under $20.
Wal-Mart: Local Wal-Marts offer their own customized deals, so shoppers can check in with their local store (online or in-person), but Walmart.com also offers exclusive online deals. Deals include tablets for under $100, deep discounts on Dyson vacuums, and a half-price portable HDTV for just under $40.
Best Buy: DVDs of hit movies and television shows for under $9, a 40-inch Toshiba HDTV for just under $180, and a Samsung 15.6-inch laptop for just under $350 are a few of the deep discounts on electronics that Best Buy will offer starting at midnight on Thanksgiving. Other door-buster deals include coffee makers, cameras, and tablets.
Sears: Discounted items range from fuzzy slippers and handbags along with televisions, washer/dryer sets, tablets, and laptops. Sears' 64-page Black Friday ad also comes with an additional $10 off coupon for those who spend upwards of $40 (for online or in-person shoppers).
Toys 'R Us: Many of the stores' most popular toys, including Crayola crafts and Lalaloopsy dolls, will feature discounts, and the first 200 customers to line up at each store (for the 8 p.m. opening Thanksgiving evening) will get a goody bag filled with $30 worth of toys.
Macy's: Diamond stud earnings, which normally retail for $600, will go for $199, and Bulova stainless steel watches will sell for $99. For the kitchen, cookware sets, standing mixers, and juicers will all be on sale, along with comforters and bedding sets. Many cosmetics purchases will come with free gifts, including gift sets, iPhone cases, and cosmetic bags.
Some stores have yet to release details about their top deals, so shoppers can check their newspaper circulars, store websites, and Black Friday sites such as BlackFriday2012.com to stay on top of the latest news. Happy shopping!