Preparing for Black Friday 2011

Casey BartoIt’s almost turkey time, which means Black Friday is just around the corner. This year more and more retailers are planning to begin their Black Friday sales on earlier (maybe to give you a chance to burn off all that food?).
While many stores will open their doors at midnight on Friday, Walmart will be hosting its Black Friday sale beginning at 10 p.m. of Thanksgiving night. Walmart, along with the many retailers opening at midnight, is hoping to get a jump on the holiday shopping season. According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday shoppers spent an average of $365.34 last year. That’s up from $343.31 in 2009.

Many retailers feel it’s less intrusive to open at midnight instead of the usual 4 a.m. time slot on Black Friday.

“It’s almost more intrusive to say to a customer, ‘Enjoy your Thanksgiving, but you have to be up at 3 a.m.,'” Kohl’s Chief Executive Kevin Mansell told Dow Jones Newswires.

Keeping in the same vein as Mansell’s comments, Walmart’s Chief Merchandizing Officer Duncan Mac Naughton told Dow Jones Newswires that: “Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we’re going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.”

For those shoppers that prefer to avoid the crush of Black Friday deal seekers, online retailers will be ready to deliver. Many offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on their websites. A study from Shop.org shows that over 50 percent of retailers surveyed said they have significantly invested in a mobile optimized experience this year, and 19.6 percent of retailers said they invested in apps for tablet devices.

According to Shop.org, “ 35.3 percent (of retailers) said they have significantly invested in QR codes in offline advertising, such as magazine ads and billboards. Of those who regularly use social media platforms, nearly three-quarters say they have already invested in their Facebook (72.5%) and Twitter (41.2%) accounts in advance of the holidays.”

What are your predictions for Black Friday sales this year? And if you’re a retailer, how are you preparing?

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