Black Friday 2011 Ideas and Early Hot Deals

It may not be Halloween yet, but retailers already have begun vying for holiday shoppers’ attention.

Walmart on Monday announced a price match program for the holidays. Beginning Tuesday, shoppers who buy an item at Walmart can return to the store if they find the same item advertised locally for a lower price. If shoppers bring their Walmart receipt and a valid print ad, Walmart will give shoppers a gift card in the amount of the difference.

The determination of “a competitive store located within the market area” whose price qualifies for the match will be left to store managers, according to a Walmart spokeswoman.

But the promotion excludes Black Friday deals.

Walmart and other large retailers have yet to release details about the so-called doorbuster deals.

J.C. Penney will open at 4 a.m. Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, said store manager Don Pittman.

“I don’t really have the final ad copy yet,” Pittman said when asked about the deals.

Electronics retailer Best Buy has yet to announce its Black Friday deals, but it has posted a few deals that will be available the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, including a Samsung 46-inch TV and Blu-Ray player that will be sold together for $999.98.

Locally, Old Navy will be open all day Black Friday, from midnight to midnight. But store management declined to discuss any doorbuster deals.

Researchers have completed annual holiday shopping surveys that show spending this year might be similar to that of last year.

Nearly three out of five consumers will spend at least as much as last year, according to an annual survey released Wednesday by finance company Deloitte. Shoppers with household incomes of less than $100,000 are expected to spend, on average, $291 on gifts.

For those expecting to spend less, higher prices for food and gas were among reasons why they might shop less than they did last year.

“Lackluster employment growth, debt crises and stock market fluctuations have battered consumer confidence, while inflation left many with lighter wallets this fall,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution leader at Deloitte, in a statement. “Consumers will be conservative this holiday season, but remain resilient and maintain a more positive interest in holiday shopping than we witnessed during the recession.”

Pittman said he expects Abilene shoppers to be busy finding deals on Black Friday.

“Our experience is that even in a difficult year, on the holidays and the traditional shopping days … Abilene has a very strong response,” Pittman said.

So far this year, sales are up at many retailers in the Mall of Abilene, said Laurie McAdams, the mall’s marketing and specialty leasing manager.

Department stores and some other retailers don’t report sales to mall management, but McAdams said sales have been strong this year, adding that sales “look great for the different categories,” with apparel, shoes and electronics retailers reporting stable sales or increases.

The Mall of Abilene will open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, McAdams said, with some stores opening earlier.

Deloitte’s survey found that consumers are less interested in purchasing gift cards than last year, with clothing listed as the top gift idea.

Slightly more than half of survey respondents (51 percent) described plans to shop online, an increase of 10 percent compared with last year.

Technology also seems to be reshaping the way consumers shop, with 44 percent planning to use social media to find discounts and product reviews and to check gift lists.

“Retailers that use mobile and online channels to show product availability, locations and pricing, but add customized promotions and gift ideas, may encourage shoppers to come in the door for a specific gift and take additional items to the register,” Paul noted.

Most shoppers — 73 percent — said they planned to wait until after Thanksgiving before doing most of their gift buying.

Black Friday also tends to be most attractive to young shoppers, according to the survey, with 42 percent of shoppers between the ages of 18 to 24 planning to shop on Black Friday compared with just 24 percent of those 25 and older.

The survey was conducted between Sept. 16 and 26.