Take all of last year’s Black Friday wisdom about procrastinating for better prices and endangering your physical safety for deals and shove it up the nearest chimney.
This isn’t 2008, and retailers aren’t piling up inventory while knocking down prices. Target (NYSE: TGT – News) and Sears (NasdaqGS: SHLD – News) already held Black Friday sales in July, and the discounts they’ll be offering on a limited supply of Black Friday products won’t offset the time and aggravation saved by avoiding overnight lines, letting others push through plate glass doors and getting all your holiday shopping done through deals being offered right now.
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Besides, according to the National Retail Federation, those starting their holiday shopping now are just lollygagging. The NRF estimates that 18.8% of holiday shoppers began attacking their holiday lists last month, while another nearly 19% got a head start in September or before. Retailers, meanwhile, began their big push last month as Toys R Us put its entire 80-page holiday toy book on sale, Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN – News) slashed prices on electronics and Sears began a series of “Black Friday Now” sales.
The November weeks before Black Friday are going to be an even bigger celebration of consumerism, with the NRF predicting that more than 40% of holiday shoppers will hit stores for the first time this month. They have a very specific shopping agenda, too, as the American Express (NYSE: AXP – News) Spending and Saving Tracker found that 51% of consumers want to wrap up their holiday shopping a week before Christmas or sooner, with 84% of shoppers looking for deals along the way. Retailers are all too eager to help, as Target is planning a four-day sale starting the Sunday before Thanksgiving featuring toys, electronics and entertainment products discounted nearly 50%. Meanwhile, JCPenney (NYSE: JCP – News) has three large sales planned between now and Black Friday and Target’s and Wal-Mart’s (NYSE: WMT – News) websites are already offering daily holiday specials.
That said, some deals are definitely better than others. While it’ll be difficult to beat the $3 appliances Target’s rumored to be offering Black Friday, prices on some toys, electronics and other wish-list staples are worth checking out now. TheStreet did some bargain hunting and found seven categories on which savvy shoppers can save without sacrificing their sanity or tryptophan-induced post-Thanksgiving sleep:
Courtesy of Mattel
As we mentioned, Toys R Us put its holiday toy book on sale back in October, so that’s roughly how long toys have been a bargain. Target, though, became the toy store du jour earlier this month when a Wall Street Journal price comparison found that Wal-Mart’s toy prices were significantly higher than Target’s in several instances. That didn’t sit well in Arkansas, where folks at Wal-Mart headquarters went on toy box damage control by slashing toy prices to within a dollar of Target’s total. So who wins? You do.
With Sears and Wal-Mart originally offering Mattel’s (NasdaqGS: MAT – News) wisecracking sanitation vehicle Stinky the Garbage truck for $60 and $56 apiece, Target chopped its price to $50, encouraging Wal-Mart and Amazon to follow suit. Meanwhile, a Barbie Video Girl — a doll with a not-creepy-at-all digital camera lodged in its sternum — sells for as much as $60 at Kohls and $50 at Target, but fell to $40 at Wal-Mart and Amazon after a bloody round of price cuts. You could totally make all your G.I. Joes fight all your Transformers and still not have a toy war of this magnitude.
Courtesy of Samsung
The picture’s been looking pretty dark for HDTV prices for much of the year, with research firm DisplaySearch predicting an 8% drop in average LCD television prices and iSuppli forecasting prices as low as $200 for a 32-inch 720p HDTV and $500 for a 42-inch 1080p model. They pretty much nailed it, as a 22-inch 720p Sharp AQOUS LCD television can be had for $180 at JR.com.