As U.S. shoppers gear up for the Black Friday post-Thanksgiving shopping spree, retailers have been rushing to draw attention to promotions and aggressive price cuts.
Friday, which traditionally marks the start of the shopping season, is expected to be one of the heaviest retail shopping days of the year. The average consumer will spend nearly $791 on holiday merchandise and sales will total $457 billion according to the National Retail Federation. The consumer and sales forecasts are up 7 and 5 percent from last year respectively.
Wal-Mart, the nationâ€™s top retailer, fired the first salvo in the lead up to Black Friday after management expressed disappointment with its October sales figures. The retailer has made price â€˜rollbacksâ€™ on toys and electronics. It will also reveal 70 additional Black Friday specials on its website on Thanksgiving Day.
Beyond price cuts, some retailers are looking to save their customers time. Searsâ€™ five-minute in-store pickup guarantee promotion gives customers a $5 coupon if they cannot get in and out of the store in five minutes or less after their order goes through a merchandise pick-up kiosk. The guarantee only applies to online and in-store purchase.
Some stores are resorting to stunts, literally, to get attention. Shoppers in New Yorkâ€™s Time Square and national audiences on morning TV will likely see Target banners promoting the retailerâ€™s 2-Day sale this weekend as magician David Blaine attempts to escape from chains in a rotating gyroscope at a location high above the ground. Earlier this month, the retailer said it would be matching Wal-Martâ€™s price cuts as well.
The promotion blitz will also reach into the home. Many of those waking up early on Thursday will tune in to see Macyâ€™s Department Store hold its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Broadcaster NBC and its Spanish language sister network Telemundo expect a TV audience of more than 50 million.