"Black Friday" has become a code word for "big sale" rather than the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday sales began before Halloween as retailers, conscious of the calendar - which has fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving to Christmas this year, were eager to get started.
In an effort to avoid stampedes and to ramp up interest early, retailers will be open longer hours and rely more heavily than ever on the Internet.
Retailers aren't the only ones excited about Black Friday. The highest percentage of Americans ever are planning to shop Black Friday sales this year.
Electronics are the most heavily discounted items on Black Friday. $3 coffee makers and toasters and $49 Blu-Ray DVD players are among the bargains. In other categories don't expect discounts below 50-60%, the 70-80% early discounts that took place last year won't happen this year.
Rather than progressive markdowns retailers will have weekend, one-day and even 2 hours sales throughout the season. Over 50 percent of consumers say they won't buy unless it's a bargain and retailers have responded with bargains - or at least the perception of bargains.
Because retailers have lower inventory levels massive markdowns are less likely. This is particularly true of luxury products.
Hot & Cheap
The hottest item so far this year is a $10 robotic hamster - which is sold out and selling on E-Bay and Amazon for over $50. Retailers are sporting loads of under $10 toys and prices have been lowered on clothing and accessories of all sorts.
Consumers are asking for clothes this year, and younger consumers want gift cards.
Research offerings online now and pre-order if possible. Most major retailers have already "leaked" their Black Friday discounts. Try sites like dealnews.com and theblackfriday.com
Don't buy the wrong thing because you like the price, think value not savings
Use social media to get instant updates from your favorite retailers. Facebook fans and Twitter followers will get up-to-the-minute news and special discounts
Go early, bargains will sell out in record time. If it's something special, don't hold out for 75% discounts
About Kit Yarrow:
Kit Yarrow is an award-winning consumer research psychologist and a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University.
She is co-author or Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail. Visit www.genbuy.net for more information about the psychology and shopping habits of Generation Y, those born between 1978 and 2000.