Black Friday ads available in advance online

BlackFriday online deals

For the past few decades, an annual Thanksgiving Day event in my house was to get up early, and bring in the log-sized newspaper weighted down with countless Black Friday sale books. Admittedly, sometimes we would go out late Wednesday night to get the early edition of the paper at a local convenience store. The six of us would scour the ads, mixing wishful thinking with a shopping strategy intended to maximize the bargains we could purchase at the local stores. We approached that challenge with all of the aplomb of a tactical military campaign, deciding which of us would go to what stores, and purchase what for whom. There was a sense of anxiety and excitement as we dreamed of the bargains available from the local stores, always cognizant that we only had a finite amount of time on Thanksgiving prior to a legendary feast.

Now, with the burgeoning Internet and the massive content available, it was only inevitable that there would be an online competition between websites eager to post Black Friday ads often weeks in advance. For the past several years, the number of Black Friday ads posted online by third-party websites exploded from a small handful of stores to almost all of the major retailers today.

In the early days of the illicit, unapproved Black Friday ad postings online, several major retailers issued written cease and desist letters to the sites demanding that the ads be removed immediately; there were also several lawsuits filed by major retailers, compelling some of the sites to take down the offending ads. While such legal pressures might still exist in some cases, for some inexplicable reason many of the local retailers have found that these unauthorized, premature ad postings have actually helped, rather than hindered sales.

In the early days of Internet Black Friday ad postings, many of the ads were photographed or manually scanned after being purloined from commercial printing companies and newspaper warehouses; these early postings were often grainy and difficult to read. Growing up in a retail family, I am well aware that most of the Black Friday ads are actually prepared several months in advance to allow for the merchandising, the physical printing of many pallet loads of ads, and shipping those pallets to hundreds of newspapers often weeks before the Thanksgiving edition of the paper is published. With all of this advance handling, despite strict and draconian rules to the contrary, copies of the ads almost always leaked out to trusted friends and family.

At present, most major retailers still publically withhold the Black Friday ads until the Thanksgiving edition of the local paper is distributed; but now, with a wink and a nod, they often surreptitiously allow good quality digital copies to leak to bloggers and selected sites. The premature online posting of these ads has been found to create “buzz” and generally stimulate sales as shoppers now have more time to drool over some of the better offerings, discussing them with family and friends, while stimulating demand. Contrary to popular belief, as expounded in the classical movie “Miracle on 34th Street,” since almost all of the major retailers are simultaneously preparing their Black Friday ads long in advance, Gimbel’s and Macy’s are not really trying to outdo each other at the last minute.

As I type this, dozens of 2014 Black Friday ads are already online at multiple sites, and more ads are added on an almost daily basis. Currently listed Black Friday 2014 ads on the sites (with many more still to come) are such local favorites as JCPenney, Kohls, Sears, Ace Hardware, Harbor Freight, Home Depot appliances, Kmart, PetSmart, Radio Shack, Sam’s Club, Stein Mart, Tractor Supply Company, Beall’s, Dollar General, Palais Royal, Target (toys), Lowes, Walgreens, Walmart (toys), and ToysRUs. The Dealnews Black Friday website (dealnews.com/black-friday) also displays a listing of “expected shortly” Black Friday ads still to appear in advance, and includes Aeropostale, Academy, BabiesRUs, Bass Pro Shops, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, CVS, Fry’s, GameStop, Gander Mountain, Joann’s, Macy’s, Office Depot and OfficeMax, Old Navy, Target, TrueValue, Walmart, AAFES, Navy Exchange, and many other well known retailers. With an online selection as broad as these local retailers, there is enough content available to satiate anyone looking for Black Friday bargains.

Many of the “deal” websites also index the content of the ads by product type; for example, if shopping for a new TV or computer, a single click on an index displayed on several of the websites will display the offerings of that particular category from all of the listed retailers. Clicking on the “Electronics” link on the Dealnews Black Friday site shows 16 screens of electronics listed in the Black Friday ads that DealNews.com has already characterized. Listed as the most popular item (based on viewers), is a heavily discounted Vizio 55-inch 240Hz 1080p Smart LED LCD HDTV from one of the big box stores, along with the proviso that there will only be a very limited quantity of those TVs available. Specifically listing TVs on sale on Black Friday is one of our very popular soft goods retailers better known for its clothing. The Black Friday early morning door buster (very limited quantities) is a 32-inch LED HDTV for $100. This Dealnews listing of Black Friday TV bargains is already six pages long and has an awesome selection of bargain priced TVs.

Knowing that many of the best bargains are only available in very limited quantities and tend to sell out very quickly, three years ago one of my daughters and her husband left their daughter (our granddaughter) with us at about 7 p.m., after eating Thanksgiving dinner. They went out in the cold sleet in order to be among the first near the door at one of the big box stores when it opened at midnight. They had previously reconnoitered the store to learn their most efficient internal routes and product locations, and at the stroke of midnight entered the store, and successfully purchased one of the very limited quantity, deeply reduced, very large screen TVs, along with a cart-load of other limited quantity bargains. I am always amused when the local TV stations show people camping out, often days in advance, on the sidewalk in front of one of the big box electronics stores known for its Black Friday bargains.

With the ready availability of websites displaying these Black Friday ads well in advance, such as dealnews.com/black-friday, blackfriday.bradsdeals.com, blackfriday.fm and many other websites, those of us who want to plan in advance what we want and where we want to go on Black Friday (and Thanksgiving day for several retailers), we may easily do so well before the busiest shopping day of the year. For those of us traditionalists, part of the fun of Thanksgiving morning is the excitement of the family getting together and pouring through the myriad of sale books in the newspaper.

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