Black Friday shopping has emerged as one of the country’s most treasured holiday traditions.
But there’s always a bit of hassle involved: Shoppers have to fight their drowsiness and stand in endless lines at stores — all in the name of savings.
That tradition is changing, however, according to WalletHub, the D.C.-based personal finance website.
Black Friday sales started earlier, weeks ahead of the actual shopping holiday at some stores. And many retailers are offering even steeper price cuts or other discount promotions, both in store and online, just to stay ahead of their competitors, WalletHub experts said.
Analysts for the website have surveyed nearly 10,000 deals from 35 of the biggest retailers’ 2017 Black Friday ad scans, listing the stores that offer the largest advertised discounts in various categories like appliances and jewelry.
For those seeking computers and phones, the top five places to shop are Stage, Shopko, J.C. Penney, Guitar Center and Dollar General.
For consumer electronics, Stage again was tops, followed by Belk, True Value, Shopko, and Fred Meyer. The top five for apparel and accessories were Shopko, Stage, J.C. Penney, Sears and Belk.
Kohl’s was tops for jewelry, followed by Shopko, Sears, J.C. Penney and Stage. Walmart landed in the top spot for books, movies and music, followed by Target, Kmart, Best Buy and Amazon.
For video game lovers, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Fred Meyer and Shopko made up the top five.
Kohl’s has the highest overall discount rate at 66.32 percent, whereas Bass Pro Shops has the lowest at 20.83 percent.
The overall average discount for Black Friday is 37 percent. Consumers should aim for this discount amount or higher to avoid Black-Friday traps, WalletHub experts said.
The apparel and accessories category has the biggest share of discounted items, 28.03 percent of all offers, whereas the consumer packaged goods category has the smallest at 1.62 percent.
“Black Friday deals are designed to get customers in the door so that they will buy other products while they are there,” said Susan Mudambi, a research professor of marketing in the Fox School of Business at Temple University and WalletHub expert. “A common consumer trap is to think, ‘I saved $100 on this bargain, so I have $100 of free money to spend in the store.'”
Savvy consumers focus not on how much they save by buying a Black Friday offer, instead they examine the deals before entering the store and set a shopping budget and then question every item as to whether they really need it, she said.
Thanks to the digital environment, shoppers can now check weeks ahead all the Black Friday offers of major retailers, which should help decide which offers are worth the effort, said Maria Petrescu, an associate professor of Marketing at Nova Southeastern University and a WalletHub expert.
“After doing your homework regarding price, availability and timeframe of the promotion make a decision regarding which products you really need,” Petrescu said. “If you think that one of the door-buster products, that are two to three per store, is something that will help you with your holiday budget and a real must-have, then make sure you are among the first ones there to either get a number, or to spend a few hours in line before the store opens. In this case, plan to shop your other products from the same store.”
It used to be that people shopped for clothing on Black Friday and electronics on Cyber Monday, said Diana Haytko, a Marguerite and Guy Howard professor of business and professor of marketing in the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University.
“Now, it’s a free-for-all.” Haytko said. “Consumers can find nearly anything they want being offered as a bargain throughout the holidays, if they are willing to look hard and be patient. Oddly enough, the best deals last year were on Thanksgiving.”