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Black Friday – just a sale? Some shoppers starting earlier, rethinking holiday buying strategies

Brenda Hallman, right, helps Beth Simpson look for ornaments during a recent trip to Two Social Butterflies in Rock Hill. Hallman says she likes to shop local, but will be one of the many shoppers nationwide that will likely not shop Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
Brenda Hallman, right, helps Beth Simpson look for ornaments during a recent trip to Two Social Butterflies in Rock Hill. Hallman says she likes to shop local, but will be one of the many shoppers nationwide that will likely not shop Thanksgiving or Black Friday. dworthington@heraldonline.com

Beth Simpson of Rock Hill represents the growing number of holiday shoppers who will do minimal shopping during the upcoming 5 Days of Savings – Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday.

Simpson is among the 40 percent who started their holiday shopping before November. She is also part of the 46 percent who are shopping online this season, and she is among those who support local small businesses this Christmas – but she won’t be shopping Small Business Saturday.

Simpson plans to spent the 5 Days of Savings with her 3-year-old grandson Jason.

“I won’t be shopping on Black Friday, and the only shopping I may do is some online shopping while Jason sleeps,” she said while shopping at Two Social Butterflies, a boutique off India Hook Road that already is filled with Christmas buys, many by local artisans.

The growing number of early shoppers, and stores promoting Christmas holiday shopping discounts as early as the summer, are leading many to rethink traditional Black Friday strategies.

Black Friday is “classic advertising wear out,” says Jane Thomas, professor of marketing at Winthrop University. “Black Friday doesn’t create an urgent response; it’s now just a sale.”

But it doesn’t signal of the end of Black Friday, Thomas said. “There will always be the loyalists, the ritual shoppers. It would be like not having turkey on Thanksgiving,” she said.

The National Retail Federation projects spending this holiday season will top $630 billion with the average person spending $805 – $3more than last year.

An estimated 134 million will shop either in stores or online for the 5 Days of Savings, 6 million fewer than those who shopped the same period last year. Fifty-five percent will shop Black Friday, 30 percent on Small Business Saturday and 45 percent on Cyber Monday.

“You will get great deals,” during the 5 Days of Savings, Thomas said. “You just need to be watchful.”

Books, movies and music are the no. 1 product for deepest Black Friday discounts at 28 points, according to the personal finance website WalletHub. Next on the list is video games – just the software – discounted about 22 percent, and toys, also 22 percent.

WalletHub also looked at the retailers offering the best discounts. Topping the list is JC Penney with overall discount rate of 68 percent, followed by Kohl’s at 67 percent. Belk was fifth on the list at 60 percent; KMart was eighth at 47 percent; and Office Depot and Office Max were 10th at 43 percent.

As always, shopping experts are advising customers to have a retail strategy before heading out to shop or even go online. And be disciplined, they said.

“Savvy shoppers are preparing their gift lists, considering budgets and downloading shopping apps that make deal-hunting easier,” said Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor at RetailMeNot, Inc. Savvy shoppers understand which retail categories are being discounted and when. Category discounts tend to ebb and flow during the shopping season.

And shopping can be done from the comfort of home as more and more retailers are offering the same deals online as is in their stores.

Shoppers also are looking for additional savings, often picking stores that offer free or discounted shipping on orders or offers to send items to a local store for pickup.

“It’s all part of the omni-channel marketing by stores,” said Marianne Bickle, chairman of the retailing department of the University of South Carolina.

In-store pickup has been growing in popularity – but has a consumer drawback. Stores are counting on customers to make impulse buys in addition to what they are picking up.

“Does it work? Absolutely,” Bickle said.

Don Worthington: 803-329-4066, dworthington@heraldonline.com, @rhherald_donw

Who’s open Thanksgiving?

Major retailers who have announced Thanksgiving hours:

Galleria mall, Rock Hill, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Belk, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Best Buy 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.,

Dick’s Sporting Goods 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Dollar General 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

JC Penney 3 p.m. to midnight

Kmart 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday

Kohl’s 6 p.m. to midnight

Sears 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Target 6 p.m.

Toys R Us 5 p.m. to midnight

Walgreens, most locations open at 8 a.m.

Walmart open 24 hours,

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