Clark Howard: A sneak peek at Black Friday

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Retailers are pessimistic about what this Christmas will bring. They’re expecting a lump of coal, which means that you’ll get the deals. I’m expecting retailers to frontload promotions heavily this month, specifically tied in with layaway.

Like it or not, the Christmas shopping season is already upon us. I was at a warehouse club recently that had four aisles equipped of Christmas trees, toys and more.

There are any number of predictions leaking out that Thanksgiving may be a full shopping day this year, according to MarketWatch. Two years ago, it started creeping into Thanksgiving evening. This year many indications point to at least some stores being open all day on Turkey Day.

This year will be very “promotional,” as retailers like to say, in the toy aisle; perhaps the most promotional Christmas season since the depths of the financial crisis in 2008.

What’s driving the competition? Four factors: Toys R Us, Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target.

Toys R Us has been the longtime heavyweight in toys, but they’re looking for a reason to survive and exist after having been pigeonholed as a hyper-expensive place to shop. So expect them to do steep markdowns and offer very aggressive pricing this coming holiday season.

The reality is Target and Wal-Mart have become the new champs of lower cost toy selling. They both tend to expand the square footage they have devoted to toys during the season. Amazon, meanwhile, wants in on this game. So Toys R Us is facing some tough competition this year.

– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website.

Follow Atlanta Bargain Hunter Nedra Rhone on Facebook | Twitter | Email.


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