Looking to get a jump on store traffic, retailers have already begun marketing Black Friday deals.
Retailers usually begin launching teasers for such deals in early November. But this year, the marketing has kicked off much earlier. Before Halloween, in fact.
Lowe’s is currently accepting RSVPs for a "Black Friday Sneak Peek Party," taking place Nov. 5- 7, on its Facebook page.
Other marketers are stretching their promos beyond the typical Black Friday.
Kmart, for instance, is reprising a strategy it used last year. Called “Better Than Black Friday,” this year’s promotion extends the Black Friday shopping window from two to three days. That’s three days of back-to-back deals. (The event takes place Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, on the three weekends leading up to and following Black Friday.)
The retailer, a division of Sears Holdings Corp., is getting the word out through Facebook, Twitter and Kmart2go, its mobile app. Kmart CMO Mark Snyder first discussed the effort with Brandweek in September, saying the company made the decision to extend the event based on last year’s success.
“Promotional pricing will reign supreme,” Snyder said of what retailers and consumers can expect this year. He cited the economy dampening consumer spending as a major reason.
Sears, meanwhile, on Thursday launched a "Black Friday Now" sale. The two-day promotional window lets consumers get deals on select items from 8 a.m. to noon both in-store and on its site.
Amazon and Best Buy are also running similar promotions.
The National Retail Federation has predicted a slightly better holiday sales forecast for this year—up 2.3 percent versus a year ago. “It’s still a little below the average, but way above last year,” said Mike Gatti, evp of NRF's Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.
Despite the belief that the early bird gets the worm, marketing Black Friday too early can have its disadvantages, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group.
For one, early marketing efforts can have the unwanted effect of tarnishing or diluting the meaning behind Black Friday. Shoppers may reason there’s no point in getting up early and rushing to a particular store to snag a deal as they’re just as better off getting it elsewhere and within an extended—and more relaxed—shopping period.
Cohen, who tracks retail trends, referred to the latter as the “Grey Friday” phenomenon. Black Friday, as we knew it, is changing, he said.
The questions remains: Will Black Friday marketing still be as effective as it was in previous years?
Yes and no, Cohen said. On the one hand, consumers don’t feel “such a sense of urgency” when it comes to cashing in on time-sensitive deals. On the other hand, it’s a much needed strategy in a price-driven environment.
Snyder, of Kmart, isn’t worried though. “Black Friday will be here to stay,” he said. “It is still the 'Super Bowl' of shopping.”