"November has become Black November." -- Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist, Consumer Electronics Association
Like you, I continue to pine for that idyllic time when Thanksgiving and Christmas had their separate seasons, and we could wait until the turkey was digested before retailers bombarded us with their faux holiday cheer.
But, we must be realists. Retailer strategies continue to evolve and the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season is creeping earlier every year.
Here's the deal about the deals
Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Association, has studied this trend for years. I chatted with him at a recent CEA event in New York, and he clued me in to the Black Friday strategies for Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Target (NYSE:TGT), and other retailers.
This year, many of these giants are striving to capture both the online and in-store shoppers by offering deals for both. But...there's a catch. Some of the online deals can only be picked up in the store. Shawn explains more in this video.
Transcript: It's the most wonderful time of the year for retailers -- but only if they perform well during this crucial holiday shopping season. For many, it's make-or-break time; the difference between a great year, and a disaster.
And that is why we've seen Black Friday change so much from year to year, as retailers continually attempt to outmaneuver the competition. As a result, Thanksgiving Thursday is no longer safe, of course.
Consider this strategy by electronics giant Best Buy:
Shawn DuBravac: "You've got companies like Best Buy that are opening early but now closing for part of the evening, obviously, as they restock and get prepared, essentially, for another sales period that starts anew on Friday. That's one trend [that is] really focused on the brick and mortar experience of retail."
Shawn says this year the smart retailers are rolling out a multi-channel strategy designed to capture sales both in the store, and online. It's no longer an either/or proposition as retailers are discovering how to get online buyers into the store as well.
Shawn DuBravac: "Best Buy and others are offering coupons that are only applicable to purchases made in the store. Conversely, on the other side, you see companies like Target, which are offering Black Friday pricing now on a couple of products if you'll buy it online and have it delivered into the store. So, they're trying to condition consumers to think about them as multichannel retailers and that, I would argue, is the overarching theme for Black Friday and this holiday season broadly."
You can see in Shawn's chart the increasing amount of customers who buy consumer electronics online, and now... two-thirds of online buyers will be using mobile devices to help them shop.
The usual suspects are on the holiday wish list, topped by tablets and notebook computers... which just creates more online shoppers.
Whatever you're after this holiday season... be careful out there, Fools!
Reporting from the front lines ... I'm Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore.