For several years, retailers have been trending away from concentrating special deals on the day after Thanksgiving—known as Black Friday because of its importance to a profitable holiday season. First, major online retailers created Cyber Monday, and traditional retailers responded with their own online promotions. Then, small retailers created their own special day, Small Business Saturday.
There still were special deals on those three days this year. But retailers – traditional and online, large and small – started holiday promotions days before Thanksgiving and shoppers should expect bargains and enticements to continue throughout the holiday season. The increased options are retailers’ way of responding to changes in the way consumers shop. Convenience is paramount. “We have to serve our customer in every way we can,” said Tiffany Wilson, communications director for Walmart. “We have made changes to our store and website experience over the last few years that have set us up to have the best holiday season yet. We remain committed to providing convenience no matter how our customers like to shop, whether that’s in stores, online, on the Walmart app or a combination of all three.”
In an effort to improve the holiday shopping experience for those who visit stores, Walmart served cookies and coffee inside stores from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday. Though Black Friday special prices weren’t available until 6 p.m., shoppers were able to make other purchases and select merchandise.” They also were able to avoid waiting in lines outside. Inside, Walmart employees, wearing color-coded vests, were available to help locate products and even to check out shoppers with handheld devices to reduce checkout lines at the front of the store. Most large retailers are taking similar approaches, offering some discounts before Black Friday, adding online options and enhancing the in-store experience.

Small businesses expanded their holiday weekend efforts, too.

For example, many small businesses increased online promotion and purchase options. Collaboration among small businesses also increased this year, according to national reports.

Technology also is changing the shopping experience. Macy’s, for example, has incorporated virtual reality into the shopping experience. Augmented reality technology, which digitally showcases more than 250 trend beauty products on an in-store kiosk for instant makeup try-ons. Customers can test a variety of beauty products in minutes, without the need for the traditional makeup trials. In the home furnishings department shoppers can virtually design their living space to see how Macy's furnishings may look in their homes.

As technology and the economy continue to evolve, the 2019 holiday season undoubtedly will look different from this one. But retailers have shown that they know how to adapt to the changes.
Thanksgiving weekend looked a little different this year for those who traditionally have targeted the holiday weekend as the time to do most of their gift buying.
Retailers Expand Options for Holiday Shoppers
November 28, 2018
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