Could “Black Friday” Be Turning Gray This Year?

On the day after Thanksgiving, customers en route to Macy’s Herald
Square in New York will be greeted by the oft-frenetic Richard Simmons,
handing out samples of Ocean Spray’s energy juice drink.

But will customers – faced with shrinking retirement funds and job
worries – have the thirst to shop? There’s some worry that because of
the deteriorating economy, shoppers won’t turn out on Nov. 28 with the
same degree of deal-hunting fervor as they have in years past on the
day known as Black Friday.

The day may also be losing its cache.
Many stores have pushed up aggressive sales that were typically
reserved for the day after Thanksgiving as they desperately try to pull
shoppers in.

For the first time, Kmart has already
started offering products at what it calls “Black Friday prices.”
Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys “R” Us are offering weekly
price cuts on featured items. In addition, Toys “R” Us will open all of
its stores early this weekend and offer discounts for early risers as
part of a “Mega sale.”

“Black
Friday this year is going to be gray; it’s not going to be black,” said
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group. “Because it’s been
such a promotional year, Black Friday is going to be like another busy
weekend for the consumer.”

As in years past years, malls are
extending hours and stores like Steve Madden will offer scratch cards
with discounts of up to 50 percent off. Upscale accessories retailer
Coach Inc. will open 85 of its factory stores at midnight for Black
Friday, 14 more than last year.

But how consumers will react remains to be seen.

Kathy
Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, said that
while she does expect more staggered discounts throughout the season,
consumers are still likely to turn out on the true Black Friday.

“Consumers
are used to discounts they’re seeing now, but they’re not going to let
retailers get off that easy, because Black Friday is the ‘day of all
days’ for discounts,” she said. “There seems to be a lot of pent-up
demand this year with consumers who may have held off on buying that
winter coat or DVD player over the last couple of months.”

Source: AP

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