Retailers dangle deals in hopes that you’ll spend

Retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Victoria’s Secret are unveiling Black Friday deals earlier than ever or using such attention-getters as teen heartthrob Justin Bieber to lure more holiday shoppers.

Holiday-season sales are crucial for retailers across the board, since they represent the industry’s biggest quarter for sales and profit.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said last week that it will open its big Black Friday promotions in toys, games and apparel at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than last year. The retailer cited customer demand as the reason for pushing up the sales times.

Wal-Mart’s closely watched electronics deals will also be available earlier, at 10 p.m. instead of midnight, featuring promotions such as a 60-inch Vizio LED TV for $688, a $310 savings.

Wal-Mart also said that for the first time it will guarantee pricing and availability before Christmas on three electronics items — the 16GB Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi for $399, which includes a $75 Wal-Mart gift card; the Emerson 32-inch 720p LCD TV for $148; and the LG Blu-ray Player for $38 — for all shoppers who are in line between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., even if the store sells out of its stock.

“Wal-Mart is positioned well for the holidays,” analyst Joe Feldman of Telsey Advisory Group told MarketWatch. “We like the company’s approach.”

Sears Holdings Corp. will open its namesake chain at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, ahead of its normal opening on Black Friday. Toys R Us stores will open at the same time; the first 200 shoppers in line at each Toys R Us store Thanksgiving night will get a free goody bag. Target Corp. announced Monday its stores would open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Following the footsteps of Macy’s and Nordstrom Inc., Kohl’s also said it’s testing whether it can fulfill and ship online orders directly from its stores and expects the initiative to be “very beneficial” come next holiday. For Macy’s and Nordstrom, that option is part of their online strategy this holiday season, analysts said.

“The beauty of the whole thing is you have incremental inventory without taking the incremental inventory risk,” which leads to profit-eroding discounts, said JPMorgan analyst Matthew Boss in an interview. “It helps you turn your inventory risk.”

Getting the online piece right is crucial for retailers as more spending shifts to that channel, especially with the popularity of mobile devices. Forrester on Thursday said it expects U.S. online sales this holiday season to jump 15 percent to $68.4 billion with the average U.S. shopper spending an estimated $419 online, a 12 percent boost from last year.

Retailers also are trying to preempt and combat the phenomenon of shoppers using their smartphones to comparison shop and use stores as so-called showrooms. Best Buy Co. and Target Corp., for instance, said they will match prices with select online retailers this holiday season. Toys R Us, which unveiled a hot-toy reservation feature this holiday, requires that reservation be made in person in stores.

Chains also are trying to turn physical stores into their advantage and be proactive with smartphone-toting shoppers. Online coupon site RetailMeNot, which originally started as a site featuring coupons for online shopping, is working with retailers to “aggressively focus on in-store coupons,” said John Faith, the site’s senior vice president of mobile.

For this holiday, it’s setting up a location-based technology at more than 500 top-selling malls that will directly feed various store coupons to shoppers’ mobile devices.

A significant portion of consumers who have downloaded its mobile shopping app use it to look for in-store coupons while they are inside stores, he said.

More in Herald Business Journal

County planners seek denial of Woodway-area luxury condos

Concerns remain over design and traffic plans for the 3,081-unit development at Point Wells.

New Everett hotel will double waterfront rooms in the county

Construction on Hotel Indigo at the Port of Everett’s new live-work-play development begins Thursday.

Wells Fargo to pay $1B for mortgage, auto lending abuses

It appears that none of the $1 billion will go directly the victims of Wells Fargo’s abuses.

Washington unemployment rate at 4.8 percent

The largest job gains last month were in manufacturing retail trade and leisure and hospitality.

‘Fearless Girl’ to leave Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’

But she may be reunited with the ‘Charging Bull’ sculpture in a new location.

US on track for the longest expansion ever, but at a cost

Goldman Sachs: There’s 90% chance expansion will break the record set during the 1990s tech boom.

Road to homeownership gets rockier this spring as rates rise

First-time buyers face significant hurdles; starter homes have seen the steepest price increases.

Fly with dog or potbelly pig? Alaska wants more paperwork

It says about 150 emotional support and psychiatric service animals travel on its planes each day.

Amazon cuts a deal with Best Buy, broadens global reach

It will team up with Best Buy on a new smart TV and will offer goods to new areas of the world.

Most Read