There are less than 48 hours until Black Friday, and the deals are coming fast and furious on the Web, TV and newspapers.
On Monday, retailers began leaking their Black Friday promotions to give consumers a chance to plot shopping strategies and compare prices. Many brick-and-mortar stores are also offering Black Friday deals online, some a day early.
Stores are opening earlier than ever, but there’s been some backlash. Traditionalists complain that the extended Black Friday shopping hours are literally eating into Thanksgiving. A Target worker disgruntled over stores opening at midnight, delivered petitions with 190,000 signatures to Target Corp.’s headquarters in Minneapolis on Monday. “The vast majority of our team members have shown overwhelming support for our Black Friday plans,” a Target spokeswoman said. “Our team members feel this is the big day of the holiday and get really pumped up for working.” Target said guests expressed a preference for shopping at midnight rather than getting up in the middle of the night.
Cyber Monday 2010 grabbed headlines with spending surpassing $1 billion, the heaviest spending day in online history up to that point, according to ComScore. This year, retailers want to win the battle in stores and in cyberspace, as evidenced by robust inventories, myriad promotions and free shipping offers.
J.C. Penney is taking aim at both constituencies. Its Black Friday deals will be available a day early on jcp.com. There will be more than 500 Black Friday offers such as women’s boots for $29.99, Barbie and Fisher Price toys, $3.99 and a women’s Xersion packable down jacket, $39.88.
“The economy is continuing to challenge customers to shop smarter,” said Liz Sweney, EVP and senior general merchandise manager of J.C. Penney. “Customers are savvier than ever, but they still want meaningful gifts that offer exceptional style and quality. This plays to J.C. Penney’s strengths because our merchandise provides the style and quality our customers want at compelling prices that make sense in this economic climate. We know gift-giving is personal and we’re offering unique ideas. We feel good about our position and see great opportunity for us this holiday season.”
According to Shop.org’s eHoliday Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 51 percent of online retailers surveyed will offer promotions on Thanksgiving and 92.2 percent of online merchants will offer special promotions at some point during the Thanksgiving weekend.
The National Retail Federation is projecting an increase in shoppers from 138 million last year to 152 million this year. Among those surveyed, 33 percent said they plan to shop during the weekend, up from 27 percent in 2010.
“We’re very confident,” said a Macy’s Inc. spokesman. “We have great assortments and great marketing for Black Friday through the holiday season. We’re prepared. Last year we opened at 4 a.m. We listened to the customer, and this year, we’re opening at midnight. We saw a lot of younger people who really enjoy shopping at that time of day. They don’t go to bed. We’ll have a small number of stores open 24 hours on the last few days leading up to Christmas. Younger millennial customers like the round-the-clock shopping. They appreciate the choices.”
Wal-Mart is firing the starting gun on Thursday at 10:00 p.m. with doorbusters such as a 19-inch Sansui HDTVs for $98 and Samsumg 51-inch plasma TV for $498. “The majority of the response [on Monday and Tuesday] has been very positive,” said a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “Feedback from customers told us that they would rather stay up late than get up early, hence the 10 p.m. opening. We know our customers are watching every penny this year, so we shared our Black Friday specials earlier than ever so they can plan ahead.” Layaway has been popular at Wal-Mart throughout the third quarter and was highlighted during the company’s earnings call last week.
Forever 21 is pulling out all the stops with special prices and gifts-with-purchase. “The mood is really good,” said Linda Chang, who oversees marketing and is the daughter of founder Don Chang. “Traffic has really picked up, especially this past weekend.”
Chang said she’s concerned about the economy and events in Washington, but “that’s not really our target demo. I’m praying that they’ll figure things out in D.C. Customers are learning to be a little smarter and sharper about their purchases and that’s why we’re seeing an uptick. We and other retailers were seeing October sales and saying there was a slump in the market a little bit. As we’re coming into Black Friday, we’re starting to see sales again.”
Thomson Reuters is forecasting same-store sales growth for November at 3.2 percent, despite a difficult comparison from November 2010’s 5.5 percent.
The NPD Group reported that the conversion rate — the percentage of engaged shoppers who actually made a purchase after entering a brick-and-mortar store — in the week ended Monday ticked up to 69.1 percent from 69 percent the previous week. The online share of buying visits last week rose to 12.8 percent from 12.5 percent, indicating a slight drop in the share of actual stores.
“During this pre-Black Friday period, online continues to make more and more connections with consumers, particularly in the specialty store space,” said NPD chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen. “The big question is, can they maintain that momentum as consumers start to look to full-line retail sites that will be offering greater deals on everything including the kitchen sink.”
Department stores registered an improvement in conversion for the week, to 42 percent from 38 percent, while mass merchants and apparel specialty stores were unchanged at 73 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Mass merchants’ conversion rates tend to be higher because of the grocery items carried in their stores. However, shopping visits declined at mass merchants while increasing at beauty specialty stores, factory outlets and sporting goods stores.
Cohen said the results suggest that lower-end consumers are “catching their breath before stepping into the stores for the weekend bonanza. Secondly, we see that department stores and selective specialty stores are starting to gain momentum into holiday.”
Olive & Bette’s, a New York specialty chain, said people are buying. “Department stores have started their shenanigans early, so we match any price that our customers find elsewhere,” said Stacey Pecor, founder. “Bergdorf’s is on sale, Neiman’s is on sale and Bloomingdale’s is on sale. You’re training the customer that the fourth quarter is on sale. We’re having a good season and prices don’t seem to be an issue with consumers as they were two or three years ago. We’re starting to sell resort early. I think it’s going to be a good season, it’s just harder than usual.” The wrangling in Washington doesn’t seem to be impacting consumers. “It’s become background noise. I don’t think it affects their ability to take out their credit card.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye