Toys R Us aims to get jump on holiday shopping

It will offer special deals to loyalty club members

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Hackensack, N.J. — Toys R Us plans to let its best customers shop like it’s Black Friday on the “Day Before Thanksgiving Wednesday.”

The Wayne, N.J.-based toy retailer is expected to announce that it will let its loyalty club members get a head start on the holiday weekend deals. Existing Rewards R Us members, and those who sign up for the loyalty card by Nov. 24, will get an email alert about certain holiday deals and be allowed to purchase them a day before anyone else can.

This year, retailers such as Toys R Us are in a competitive frenzy to get shoppers to spend with them first. The shopping season this year is only 26 days long between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the shortest number of days possible between the two holidays. If Toys R Us can get a shopper to buy the must-have Elmo doll or action figure on Wednesday, it keeps that customer from going to Wal-Mart or Target for a similar deal on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.

Black Friday — the phrase typically used for the day after Thanksgiving, when stores begin the holiday shopping season by offering their best deals — now has stretched into a four-day event, with a growing number of retailers offering their Black Friday deals starting on Thanksgiving night.

Last year, Toys R Us opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. It has not yet announced when it will open this year. Wal-Mart and Target, which also opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving in 2012, have not yet revealed their plans for this year. Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s have all said that they will open at 8 p.m. on this year’s holiday.

Analysts at the National Retail Federation and at other retail groups have predicted that “get them in our door early” will be the mantra for merchants this year, because of the shorter shopping season. If a shopper on a budget spends $100 at a particular store, the retailers reason, that is $100 they no longer have available to spend at a competitor.

Retailers this year have launched their holiday marketing campaigns earlier, offering free layaway programs to lock in sales in October and early November, and used other measures to encourage early shopping. Toys R Us offered cash-back rewards for purchases made before Oct. 31. In November and December, it will offer incentives to rewards club members who shop on certain days.