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Retailers Offer Deals and Hospitality for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

26 Nov, 2007 By: John Latchem

Hoping to get a jump on what many analysts predict will be a sluggish holiday season, several chains opened their doors early with in-store and online deals on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving Day early openings in the past have been limited to discount chains and grocery stores.

According to The Associated Press, CompUSA offered pumpkin pie to those waiting in line the night before Black Friday, and shoppers at a Kmart in North Carolina were handed coffee and doughnuts before clearing shelves of HDTVs and video game systems.

Most retailers, however, steered consumers toward their Web sites, with bargains that continued even beyond Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving that is traditionally considered the busiest online shopping day of the year.

Several online sellers, including eBay, Shopping.com and PayPal, reported a 61% surge in online traffic on Black Friday over last year. About 30% of all holiday shopping is expected to be done online. According to Forrester Research, online payments are predicted to top $33 billion this season, up 21% over last year.

“Early signs from a very busy Black Friday show that many shoppers are grabbing their mouse instead of their car keys this holiday season,” said eBay's Jim Griffith.

The online total may have been more, with technical issues and traffic congestion negatively affecting one-third of retail sites, according to Keynote Competitive Research. Keynote experts noted that 5% to 10% slow-downs in traffic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are common, but some sites experienced up to 400% delays.

Circuit City offered Cyber Monday discounts on HDTVs, DVD players, home theater systems and Apple iPods. The electronics chain offered an additional 10% savings to consumers who spent $249 or more online and chose the in-store pickup option.

Best Buy on Cyber Monday had huge discounts on MP3 players, up to 50% off select DVDs, and up to $300 off select HDTV models, plus 15% off Sanus TV mounts.

Amazon.com extended its savings with 50% off a wide array of DVD titles, including several complete-season TV DVDs for under $21.

Wal-Mart extended its string of secret sales into the week after Thanksgiving, offering an Xbox 360 ultimate starter bundle for $399 on Monday, and an Eye-Fi 47-inch 1080p LCD HDTV monitor for $898 on Thursday.

With the Canadian dollar hovering near the value of U.S. currency, the AP reported retail outlets near the Canadian border were alive with business from our neighbors to the north shopping for bargains. When the Canadian dollar peaked in early November, many malls reported 35% to 60% of their customers were Canadian.

The AP also reported performance artist Bill Talen used the occasion to promote his documentary film, What Would Jesus Buy? Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) produced the film, which targets America's consumer culture. Talen's efforts tie into a Black Friday counter-programming effort called “Buy Nothing Day,” a campaign promoted by Adbusters magazine to encourage consumers to think about their holiday shopping habits.

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