Though it's no longer the unquestioned start of the holiday shopping season, the Friday after Thanksgiving still stands as a sort of sales holiday.
It may not be what it once was, partially because of digital shopping and partly because some chains kick off their seasonal deals earlier in the month (or on Thanksgiving), but it's still huge. There will be lines of people outside of major retailers, including Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), as well as many others waiting for them to open, and most will not disappoint.
A number of companies have started to release their plans for the holiday season, and they go way beyond Black Friday. Here's a look at what we know so far so you can start planning not just what to buy this holiday season, but where and when to find it.
Target: The retailer kicked off its holiday season on November 1 by offering free shipping and returns through Target.com. It also added international shopping and shipping to more than 200 countries and territories. In partnership with Borderfree, Target.com will offer guests the ability to pay in almost 60 different currencies and have their orders shipped to themselves or to family and friends who live outside the United States, the company said in a press release.
In addition, the retailer plans to expand its Curbside pickup service from 21 to 121 stores. This allows people to order online and pick up at the store without leaving their vehicles. The company will also be using its Cartwheel app to offer offer 50% off a different toy every day from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.
All of this follows the company's previously announced plans to expand its Price Match Policy beyond its normal 14-day window, letting people buy items from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 with Target agreeing to match competitors' pricing.
Wal-Mart: The world's largest physical retailer has struggled recently in the face of digital competition, but it has big plans for the 2015 holiday season, which kicked off on Nov. 1. Though the company will still offer some short-term specials over the season, it is making a commitment to "honest, low prices all season long," promising price cuts that last "at least 90 days on everything from electronics to baking essentials," the company said in a press release.
It's also offering to match advertised prices from other retailers, including its online competitors. In addition, the company is launching Mobile Check In, which lets people check in using their phones when they arrive at a store to pick up their online order.
Macy's (NYSE:M): While the department store chain has not yet released its full selection of holiday deals (it plans to do so on Nov. 15), it has released a few. The company plans to offer 60% off women's coats and various kitchen items like a rice cooker or a hand mixer for $9.99, according to CNN Money.
The chain has also released the news that it plans to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN): The online retailer has always had a longer holiday shopping season than its rivals, and this year, it's offering Black Friday-style deals for nearly two months. The sale, which started Nov. 1, can be found on the company's Black Friday deals page. The company is offering more than 30,000 "Lightning" short-term deals, and it will be letting its Prime members access those savings opportunities 30 minutes before non-members.
The company will still offer some added deals on Black Friday and on the following Monday, known as Cyber Monday, but it's confident that an extended season will work best for it.
"Shoppers come to Amazon to discover the best deals on the best gifts, and this year, we're pulling out all of the stops," said Amazon Consumer Marketing VP Steve Shure in a press release. "With incredible deals, fast delivery options, curated lists like our Electronics Holiday Gift Guide, gift recommendations, customer reviews and more, we're making it easier than ever for customers to save time and money on their holiday shopping."
The best of the rest
Toys "R" Us: The company has mailed out its annual holiday toy catalogue and has made it available online in an interactive digital format. The company will also be offering a price-match guarantee and free shipping.
Best Buy: The electronics retailer has not released its full holiday plan, but it is attempting to cut to the head of the line with a Nov. 7 Black Friday-like sale. The company has also announced a number of other early holiday sales initiatives, including free shipping from now until Jan. 2, 2016 and free Geek Squad set-up on some top-tier tech gifts.
Kohl's (NYSE:KSS): The department store launches its holiday efforts the Monday before Thanksgiving by offering customers $15 in Kohl's Cash for every $50 spent in store or online, to use at a later date.