The traditional in-store shopping frenzy after Thanksgiving is turning into a multiday binge as retailers roll out multiple waves of “doorbuster” specials and offer certain items only on their smartphone apps.
Statistics from the National Retail Federation show a decline in the number of shoppers on Thanksgiving last year, with 34.6 million adults hitting retail outlets. That figure is down from 43.1 million in 2014 and 44.8 million in 2013.
“Before, you could only really get the doorbusters if you went to the store,” said Brent Shelton, a retail expert for Black Friday advertisement aggregator Bfads.net. “That philosophy has changed quite a bit – the majority of those doorbusters are available online.”
Hardcore shoppers are still expected to turn out on the evening of Thanksgiving to mark the start of the holiday shopping season. National chains like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart are planning to open their doors at 5 or 6 p.m.
Sacramento’s Arden Fair mall will usher shoppers in at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but about 30 stores, including Nordstrom, will be closed. The mall will close at midnight before reopening again at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, a departure from last year when the complex stayed opened for 16 hours straight.
Arden Fair officials are “still feeling out what the rest of the retail world is doing,” said Jamie Donley, senior marketing manager, noting that Black Friday is the only day retailers have leeway to determine their hours.
“We didn’t feel that we had a high shopping period between midnight and 6 a.m. last year,” she said. “We decided it would be best for everyone to close this year.”
Some department stores, such as Macy’s and JCPenney, will buck the trend and remain open overnight since they have exterior entrances.
Talha Javed, 19, of Elk Grove prefers to make purchases online, but he will shop on Thanksgiving at Target and Best Buy out of nostalgia and at the request of his baby boomer parents.
“We all split up as soon as we hit the door,” said Javed, a Cosumnes River College student. He is eyeing deals for a 50-inch television.
Wal-Mart, whose locations have been the sites of Black Friday near-stampedes, is inviting customers to shop on all its channels – online, mobile and its vast brick-and-mortar operation. But bargain seekers take note: A 65-inch Hitachi ultra-high-definition television priced at $599 will be available for purchase only through the company’s mobile app.
“It’s about serving customers the way they want to shop,” said Delia Garcia, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. “We’re trying to provide as much flexibility to customers to meet their busy schedules. That’s how we meet customer demand.”
Editor’s Note: Previous versions of this story listed an incorrect opening time for Arden Fair Mall on Friday. We regret the error.