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More shoppers than ever plan to venture out for savings on Black Friday this year and will spend more money, according to a survey by Accenture Research, who reports that enthusiasm for hitting the stores on the biggest shopping day of the year has reached its highest level in the last eight years. WalletHub, a leading personal finance social network, conducted an in-depth analysis of which retailers are offering the biggest shopping deals and what items tend to be discounted the most.
Wallethub looked at 5,525 advertisements from 22 of the biggest U.S. retailers to determine which of those stores would be offering the biggest discounts on holiday shopping favorites. They included the average markdown of those items, categorizing them into their appropriate categories. Their results showed that JCPenney topped the discount list with average advertised savings of 65.44 percent. Jewelry is expected to have the largest discounts on average, at 58.04 percent. The items most often discounted are toys, with 25.9 percent marked down.
However, those average markdowns come from a wide range of discounts offered by various retailers, meaning that the holiday shopper needs to narrow their search for the biggest savings. For example, jewelry discounts range from 24.89 percent at Kohl’s to 78.75 percent at Kmart. Target and Walmart were not advertising any jewelry markdowns. Toy savings ranged from 20.58 percent on Amazon to 48.18 percent at Kohl’s. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), jewelry has the highest percentage of sales during the holiday sales, with 28 percent of retailers offering markdowns.
The survey from Accenture Research found that 47 percent of consumers who responded to the survey are planning to shop between 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day and 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Forty-five percent reported that they planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day, up from 38 percent last year.
The stakes are high for both shoppers and stores. The (NRF) reports that sales during the months of November and December can account for as much as 20-40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. They estimate that holiday sales this year will be $616.9 billion, an increase of 4.1 percent from 2013. According to their research, 45 million holiday shoppers turned out for Thanksgiving store openings in 2013, meaning people are hitting the streets instead of the couch after consuming their turkey and pumpkin pie, rather than waiting for Black Friday to actually dawn. More an 131 million unique consumers are expected to be out shopping during the entire holiday weekend.
JCPenney, Macy’s, Rite Aid, Meijer and Sears topped the list of average discounts offered by the retailers surveyed by WalletHub, with all exceeding 50 percent on advertised items. Amazon, Big Lots and Costo were at the bottom of the list, offering discounts of less than 30 percent. Where the shopper should go for the best deals on Black Friday depends on the category of what they are shopping for. For instance, the best place to shop for apparel and accessories is Sears, offering 69 percent discounts. The best place to go for computers and phones is Office Depot and Office Max, with 40 percent discounts. Discounts on consumer electronics and packaged goods are both highest at Macy’s. The best deals on toys come from Kohl’s.
WalletHub offers tips from research experts on how Black Friday shoppers can tell good deals from bad ones. Deborah Owens is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Akron. She says consumers should know their products and prices before hitting the streets, using their “search engine skills” to identify the real deals. Do not try to find the biggest deals on Black Friday. Do the research in advance, early in the week.
James Roberts, Professor of Marketing at Baylor University, says to read the fine print on the Black Friday advertised specials, as some have severe limits on the number of advertised items available. He also says to make a list and not to be distracted by bargains that are not on it.
Mathew Curtis, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Annenberg School of Communication and University of Southern California, says that people need to recognize that retailers want the consumer to overspend. Crowd mentality can cause Black Friday shoppers to join in grabbing whatever looks like a deal, rather than what they actually came to buy. Have a budget and a list going in and stick to it.
Apple, Home Depot, IKEA and Lowes did not respond to WalletHub’s requests for data on Black Friday’s biggest deals they would be offering. Some of Amazon’s deals could not be included in the calculations because they did not provide all the requested information.
By Beth A. Balen