The name of the Christmas shopping game for the next 11 days is pre-Black Friday. No longer just a term to describe the days when consumers are waiting for Black Friday, pre-Black Friday has its own official space on the 2012 retail sales calendar, and the biggest U.S. retailers like Amazon (AMZN), Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT), Kmart (SHLD), and Aeropostale (ARO) are trying out some promotional moves in an effort to define the pre-Black Friday dance for the entire industry.
Retailers seem to have collectively come to the unspoken agreement that there's really no fiscal logic behind waiting until the day after Thanksgiving before offering Christmas holiday shopping deals. So each year retailers dangle Christmas deals in front of online and in-store shoppers at earlier and earlier dates, to see just how soon Christmas shoppers are willing to put on their shopping shoes and join in the pre-Black Friday dance.
So, what hot deals and creative promotions do retailers have to offer to 2012 Pre-Black Friday shoppers who are willing to accept the new Pre-Black Friday shopping schedule? As is true for everything retail this time of year, the Pre-Black Friday promotions are announced often, and change quickly. But here's some of the latest news from two of the biggest pre-Black Friday players, Amazon and Wal-Mart.
Free from any kind of brick-and-mortar history, Amazon was a notable first to disregard the Black Friday tradition, and because of that, Amazon is the retailer to beat for 2012 Pre-Black Friday sales. Amazon knows this, and is employing aggressive marketing innovations to maintain its Christmas sales lead. The mega Internet shopping site isn't just sticking its toes into the pre-Black Friday sales pool. Amazon is jumping straight into the deep end of discounts right away.
Amazon's Pre-Black Friday deals so far include:
- 77% Off Kingston 16 GB Class 4 MicroSDHC Flash Card
- 60% Off SanDisk Extreme SSD 120 GB SATA 6.0 Gb-s2.5-Inch Drive
- Up to 70% Off Men's Watches
- 60% Off Fishing Rods & Reels
- Up to 60% Off Diamond Rings
- Up to 60% Off Android Apps
Percentage-wise, there are very few retailers that are even coming close to Amazon's pre-Black Friday Black Friday Deals Week.
Amazon also has Pre-Black Friday Lightning Deals of the Day, which rotate in and out about every two hours, or whenever an item is sold out, whichever comes first. This is not to be confused with regular Amazon one-day-only Gold Box Deals, Kindle Daily Deals, or Amazon Coupons.Share This Story >>
Amazon is also using every technology and social media outlet available to communicate with and offer Christmas holiday shopping season deals to its virtual customers. That's part of the mastery of Amazon - being able to build strong relationships with virtually no person-to-person interactions. For a complete list of Amazon's pre-Black-Friday-Black-Week-Leading-To-Black-Weekend-And-Post-Black-Week-Deals (a/k/a two months of continuous Amazon deals and discounts), click here >>
Wal-Mart is playing the pre-Black Friday game more obviously than it has in past years, but it is not necessarily playing the pre-Black Friday game full out. The chain seems to be trying to create the illusion of genuine Black Friday Deals, hoping that consumers don't have the brilliant Amazon price comparison app which would break through the illusion.
Speaking of price comparison, Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy have created price matching programs this year specifically aimed at snagging sales away from Amazon. If the price matching logistics are executed well and hassle-free for customers, this is a strategy that could be wildly successful for Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy because they have in-store instant gratification on their side.
Back to Wal-Mart... Walmart.com is featuring "Ultimate Online Specials" for pre-Black Friday shoppers.
Some of the current ultimate specials in the Electronics department include:
- 8% OFF Acer 10.1" Netbook PC
- 9% OFF Canon EOS Rebel T3 SLR Camera Kit
- 28% OFF Articulating Wall Mount for Flat Panel TVs
- Many presumably low-priced products that don't seem to have any extra pre-Black Friday discounts applied at all.
Compared to Amazon, these are not impressive pre-Black Friday discount numbers. Also unimpressive is the execution of Wal-Mart's online promo and the functionality on the Wal-Mart website.
The Wal-Mart Ultimate Online Deals change at some undetermined time frame. I know this because literally in the middle of researching this article, almost every item changed on the Ultimate Online Specials page without warning. If I had been doing actual shopping this would have been more than a little bit frustrating.
Also frustrating is the fact that there are several Ultimate Online Deals, TVs in particular, that don't reveal prices until the item is placed in your shopping cart. This couldn't be more annoying. And the way that the navigation through the Ultimate Deals returns you back to a landing page instead of your previously viewed deal also makes the Wal-Mart pre-Black Friday online shopping experience less than ultimate.
Presumably, there is a limited amount of stock for the Wal-Mart Ultimate Online Deals, and when that is gone, new items appear. That is a presumption. Wal-Mart doesn't really outline the rules of the Ultimate Online special game. Personally, I don't enjoy playing games where I don't know the rules.
Whatever the reasons behind the rotation of the Ultimate Online deals, it's certain that Wal-Mart is employing a Groupon-style of flash deal strategy, hoping that the perception of scarcity will keep people engaged in the ongoing catch-an-online deal game. And that choose-it-or-lose-it conditioning is a good mindset for retailers to create for their shoppers for the entire Christmas shopping holiday. At least that is the theory that Wal-Mart and every other major U.S. retail chain seems to be testing with their 2012 pre-Black Friday deals.
So, in a head-to-head pre-Black Friday matchup, in many ways Amazon is the clear winner. That is unless Wal-Mart has something that you specifically want... or Target... or Best Buy...
To keep up with all the fast-changing pre-Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Black Weekend, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week deals and news, click here for daily holiday shopping news roundups >>
More On the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season:
- Important Holiday Shopping Event Dates and Calendar
- 2012 Thanksgiving Day Store Hours
- 2012 Black Friday Store Hours
- Pre-Black Friday and Black Friday News Hub