Serious shoppers across the country are readying their lists and cementing their strategy for the high holiday of shopping—Black Friday. Loaded with wish lists that include HDTVs, videogame consoles, appliances, and toys, Black Friday is a boon for the frugal and shopping fanatics. The National Retail Foundation estimates 138 million shoppers will descend on store aisles this weekend.
Black Friday shoppers come in two types, says Michael Brim of Bfads.net, one of a handful of online sites that track Black Friday advertisements. “There are the shoppers that shop for the necessity, to save money, and the shoppers who do it for the thrill of it,” he says. And waiting in line for hours to be one of the first to rush through a store’s doors at 5 a.m.? That’s just part of the rush. “I equate it to tailgating. People show up five to six hours before the game starts to meet people who share the same interests,” says Brim. "It’s a day where you can meet people like yourself and spend time with friends.”
In the last five years, stores have started to open progressively earlier, matched by shoppers willing to wait in line longer. For the first time in its history, Sears will even be open on Thanksgiving itself from 7 a.m. until noon. “Who ever heard of that?!” exclaims Dev Shapiro, spokesman for Gottadeal.com, another Black Friday site. “The stores are opening earlier and earlier—one-upping each other. If this trends continues, I’m sure retailers like Best Buy will open earlier. That would just intrude on peoples’ holidays.”
“Some people even skip Thanksgiving dinner,” says Brim. “I actually met one guy last year who had been waiting in line since 2 p.m. on Wednesday…that’s crazy.”
• Anneli Rufus: America’s Biggest SpendersIn order to comb through the confusion, The Daily Beast asked the experts at six sites dedicated to Black Friday to rank the largest national retailers holding Black Friday promotions to find which stores offer the best bang for your shopping buck. Our panel includes: BFads.net, BlackFriday.info, GottaDeal.com, TGIBlackFriday.com, Blackfriday.fm, and TheBlackFriday.com.
Each store was ranked based on an average cumulative score out of 30 based on three criteria on a scale from 1 to 10:
• Prices—How extensive are the sales in terms of products offered and the degree of discount on Black Friday promotions.
• Hours—The start time and length of sales.
• Perks—How does the retailer improve the shopping experience, i.e. with free coffee, chance giveaways, warm space to wait in line, etc.