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Is Black Wednesday on retail horizon?

November 18, 2012 12:10 am

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Shoppers will line up during Thanksgiving Day at Toys R Us and elsewhere for ever-earlier Black Friday sales.

BY CATHY JETT

Planning to snap up Black Friday deals on Black Friday this year?

If so, earlier shoppers might just beat you to the punch.

Black Friday deals will begin when Gander Mountain opens at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. And major retailers Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart will open at 8 that evening, which is an hour earlier than last year.

Target will be close behind, opening at 9 p.m. on Nov. 22, and almost all Spotsylvania Towne Centre merchants will open at midnight. Besides Sears, the exception is JCPenney, which won't open until 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

Last year, only a handful of mall merchants were open at midnight.

Getting earlier and earlier jumps on the busiest shopping time of the year is likely to pay off for retailers and job seekers alike, some experts say. Many shoppers may even prefer the chance to get Black Friday bargains in time to get to bed before the crack of dawn on Black Friday.

"We don't see as many morning shoppers at 6 a.m. [on Black Friday]," said Mark Gentry, manager of Spotsylvania Towne Centre and The Village at Towne Centre. "In the past, they got up at 3 and stood in line. Now they have the option of staying up late. They come out at 11 [to stand in line], and those same specials are available. From our point of view, it brought out more people."

But merchants also risk facing a backlash from some employees and shoppers who prefer spending Thanksgiving with family and friends. At last count Thursday, there were nearly 70 petitions on change.org to keep Black Friday on Black Friday.

Granted, some had only one or two supporters, but others had more than 100,000. If you'd like to weigh in on the topic, there's a poll on my What's In Store? blog on fredericksburg.com. The deadline to cast your vote is noon on Wednesday.

Here are the details on the Black Friday sales at some major stores next week:

Toys R Us: The first 200 customers in line at each store when it opens at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 will receive a goody bag filled with toys worth a total of $30.

The retailer will offer more than 300 deals representing $12,000 in potential savings, including more than 200 doorbusters and some free gift-with-purchase offers. New doorbuster deals available, while supplies last, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Walmart: The retailer will kick off in-store specials at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, featuring such items as an Xbox 360 4GB + SkyLanders Bundle for $149. Those specials will be on Thanksgiving Day, followed by a big electronics event at 10 p.m. that will include an HP 15.6-inch laptop with 4GB and 320GB hard drive for $279.

Walmart guarantees that customers who are inside the store and in the queue line between 10 and 11 p.m. on Nov. 22 will be able to purchase the following electronics at special low prices: an Emerson 32-inch 720p LCD TV for $148, LG Blu-ray player for $38 and an Apple iPad2 16GB with Wi-Fi for $399. The iPad2 purchase comes with a $75 Walmart gift card.

Walmart also will kick off a weekend of additional sales starting at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

Target: The stores will open at 9 p.m. Thursday, although Target.com will have exclusive, online-only discounts beginning Thanksgiving Day on many of the season's top gifts and early access to select Black Friday doorbuster deals.

Those with the retailer's REDcard who have signed up for emails or signed up to manage their accounts online will have exclusive access to 20 of the Target.com deals on Wednesday, including the LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean's The Black Pearl for $74.99.

From 4 a.m. to noon on Black Friday, shoppers who spend $50 or more on apparel, accessories or home products will earn a $10 Target gift card to use toward a future purchase. The retailer also will release four additional doorbuster deals at 4 a.m. that day, including a 50-inch Samsung 1080p LED HDTV for $699.

Spotsylvania Towne Centre and The Village at Towne Centre: The Star Radio Group will hand out hot chocolate and popcorn at The Village at Towne Centre beginning at 11 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, and all mall stores will open at midnight with the exception of Sears and JCPenney. The first 1,200 people in line at The Village will receive goody bags.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com





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