Hoping to jolt lethargic shoppers into an early pre-holiday buying frenzy, some retailers are offering Black Friday specials before Halloween this year instead of waiting for Thanksgiving, the day that traditionally kicks off the holiday buying season.
Once again, consumer electronics will be a key enticement for many retailers. For example, starting today and running every Friday through November 19th, Amazon is running a "GoldBox: Countdown to Black Friday" sales series that offers a special "Deal of the Day, plus several "Lightning Deals" that are available for limited times during the day. The promotion revolves around four themes: Connect, Play, Watch, and Listen.
Today's theme is Connect, and the deal of the day today is a 55-inch Toshiba (55UX600U) 1080p LCD TV with an LED backlight and 120Hz technology for $1,200, or $200 less than its normal price. The TV did well in our LCD TV Ratings (available to subscribers). Today's lightning deals include a Roku HD-XR streaming media player ($60), an Archos 5 500GB Android tablet, a Sonos ZP90 ZonePlayer and controller, a Buffalo Nfinity Wireless-N router, a Canon Pixma MG6120 wirelesss inkjet printer, and an Ear Force X41 digital RF wireless game headset with microphone and Dolby 7.1-channel sound.
Next week the theme is Play, so we expect to see some specials on video game systems, accessories, and software.
Sears is beckoning buyers with its "Black Friday Now Sale," which also kicks off today and runs every Friday and Saturday until Nov. 20. The promotion features two-day sales events, with deals that run only from 9 a.m. until noon in stores. The deals, however, are already available online. Among the specials: a $500 40-inch RCA-brand LCD TV, which normally sells for $570. However, one Black Friday-focused website, BFads.net, which printed the leaked ad, says in its commentary that the Black Friday deals are no lower than Sears' everyday prices.
Other retailers will have their own their Black Friday offers. Target will run a four-day sales event from Sunday, November 21st until Wednesday, November 24, where it says it will offer 50-percent-off deals on more than 170 items. The retailer will also offer a one-day online event on Thanksgiving day, and then a two-day Black Friday sale starting on November 26 with doorbuster specials.
Also getting into the act is JCPenney, which will host its "Biggest Sale of Them All" event on November 6 and another on November 17. These will be followed by a "Huge Sale" on November 20, and a "Day Before Thanksgiving" sale on November 24. Staples.com will cut prices by 50 percent on some items, such as notebook computers, digital cameras, and printers starting Sunday, November 21st and running until Wednesday, November 24.
Of course, we'll be waiting to see what Black Friday specials Wal-mart offers. The retailer, which kicked things off early last year, will be slicing prices by up to 30 percent on 200 items a week, including electronics and toys starting in early November.
We'll continue to monitor the Black Friday deals as they come out, and you can check with sites that specialize on Black Friday sales, such as BFads.net and blackfriday.info and GottaDeal.com for more comprehensive coverage of deals. We'd also love to hear the best deals you're seeing, and which ones might convince you to buy something.
—James K. Willcox