Vancouver-area retailers are gearing up for another busy Black Friday by offering steep discounts on electronics, clothing and other consumer goods.
The Vancouver Mall and some of the region’s big-box stores are planning to open their doors on Thursday evening and stay open late. Nearly all of them will be open earlier than usual on Friday morning to catch early bird shoppers.
In the case of the Vancouver Mall, individual stores can choose whether they want to open during the mall’s Thanksgiving hours of 6 p.m. to midnight, and the bigger stores with direct entrances from the parking lot can set their own hours altogether.
Macy’s, for example, will be open from 5 p.m. Thursday to 2 a.m. Friday, then reopen along with the rest of the mall at 6 a.m. Friday. JCPenney will open at 2 p.m. on Thursday and remain open through the night and the following day until 10 p.m. Friday.
Vancouver Mall marketing director Bree Sanchez said some of the smaller mom-and-pop stores and some of the food services might be closed on Thanksgiving, but customers can expect to find all the major department stores open.
For some retailers, online deals have expanded far beyond the traditional Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving and can often encompass the entire Black Friday period. Walmart, for example, began offering “Early Drop Deals” as long ago as Oct. 25 but will also offer a new round of online Black Friday deals starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Walmart also is expanding its digital shopping offerings with an online “Gift Finder” recommendation tool and a scannable toy catalog, enabling customers to use iPhones to purchase listed items through the Walmart app.
The company also has added an option called “Check Out With Me” at its Supercenter stores, where customers can check out with an associate on the store floor rather than waiting in line for the register.
At Fred Meyer, the traditional Black Friday sock sale will once again be a core part of the department store’s offerings. Sock sales continue to grow each year, according to company spokesman Jeffery Temple, and the company expects to sell more than a million pairs on Black Friday this year. This year, the sale has also been expanded to include half-price underwear.
Fred Meyer also is pushing discounts on kitchen products. Customers are shopping with convenience, speed and wellness in mind, Temple said, so the company expects to see strong sales of Instant Pots, air fryers and programmable slow cookers.
Durable food-storage containers such as Rubbermaid and Pyrex have also become big Black Friday sellers in recent years, Temple said, likely due to consumer concerns about disposable, plastic storage containers ending up in landfills.
In the electronics section, TVs and smart-home devices are expected to take the lead, Temple said, and a rare sale on Apple Airpods is expected to draw eager customers.
Fred Meyer stores will all close at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and the main Black Friday deals won’t be available until the stores reopen at 5 a.m. the following day. That schedule is intended to give both employees and customers time to enjoy Thanksgiving, Temple said, and it’s a policy Fred Meyer has stuck with due to positive customer feedback.
“They can still get all the great deals on Friday morning,” he said.
An annual survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation estimated that 165.3 million people are likely to shop during the five-day period from Thanksgiving through the following Monday, and 69 percent of those shoppers are expected to shop on Black Friday.
The survey reported that 47 percent of expected Black Friday shoppers plan to start their shopping in-store, compared with 41 percent who plan to start online. The enthusiasm for in-store shopping appears to be highest among the youngest shoppers; 52 percent of shoppers under the age of 25 said they expected to start shopping in-store.
In a separate forecast, the federation said it expected total holiday retail sales in November and December to come in between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion, which would be an approximately 4 percent increase over 2018. The average holiday sales increase over the previous five years was 3.7 percent.
A survey conducted by Washington State University’s Carson College of Business found that Pacific Northwest shoppers tend to prefer shopping on Cyber Monday — 56 percent of consumers said they planned to shop on Black Friday, but 76 percent said they would be participating on Monday.
The survey also found that 26 percent of customers were likely to shop on Thanksgiving, and 57 percent of those customers indicated that they planned to shop online.
That doesn’t mean Pacific Northwest customers are planning to abandon brick-and-mortar retail, however. The survey also found that 43 percent of consumers planned to do all or most of their shopping in-store.
This story has been updated to correct the list of durable food-storage container brand names carried by Fred Meyer.