Black Friday 2014: Trends to help you shop

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Black Friday shopping has officially become a week-long event. And for some retailers, it is even several weeks long. With all of the discounts, doorbusters and other incentives that started earlier this month, you don’t have to wait for the 5-day stretch from Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) through Dec. 1 to get the items you want at good prices.

If you are planning to shop during the standard Black Friday shopping span, here are a few trends to keep in mind:

Deals are category specific: This year expect to see the best deals in certain merchandise categories including tablets, off-brand TVs and fall clothing. So far, some of the best tablet deals are on the Samsung 7-inch Galaxy tab lite for $99.99 at Staples and Apple iPad 2 at stores including Best Buy where Apple iPad Air 2 starts at $399 or Target, where you pay the full $499 purchase price but get a $140 Target gift card.

Some specialty apparel retailers will offer 50 to 60 percent off storewide. You may also find deals on select toys. Retailers such as Kohl’s and Walgreens are having 50 percent off sales on all toys (but expect to do battle for any of the really popular ones).

Less scarcity: Last year as I talked to shoppers in Alpharetta, Dunwoody and Marietta on Thanksgiving night, the most surprising thing I heard was, “I got everything I wanted!” Retailers are beefing up inventory on doorbusters and special sale items to make sure more shoppers are satisfied. They don’t want a disgruntled shopper to exit the store empty-handed. For the third year running, Wal-Mart is offering a one-hour guarantee on certain items. Expect other retailers to have more inventory for certain items than they have had in the past.

Rise of online shopping: The lines have officially blurred between shopping in-store and shopping online with an almost 50/50 split. There will be plenty of shoppers heading into stores, but many others will shop online. Online shopping has gotten easier. You can do quick price comparisons and purchases on your computer, tablet, or smartphone and you can shop multiple stores at once. In many cases, you can also begin shopping early if you shop online. But anyone who wants instant gratification or just the experience, will still be heading to the stores.

Cyber Traffic: Long lines and limited parking happen when you shop in-store. When you shop online, websites crash. went down on Veterans Day just after an email went out advertising the last hours of a $10 off deal. was down on the first day it offered club members 20 percent off any purchase. (They had also given members an additional 20 percent off card to share with friends.) So time your online purchases well and know that you can still have traffic, lines and waiting in Cyberspace.

More people shopping on Thanksgiving: Like it or not, this has become a popular day for in-store (and online) shopping. Thanksgiving Day sales are expected to increase again this year, with most purchases happening after 6 p.m., which is the hour that most major retailers are opening.

Then again, some retailers are sticking to tradition: There are retailers who have always been open on Thanksgiving (Kmart, Big Lots) and others who have always been closed (Von Maur). Everyone else is scattered somewhere in the middle. In general, if the amount of sales retailers can make by opening on Thanksgiving Day justifies opening, then they will open.

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