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Get out and shop – Black Friday during a recession

November 19th, 2009

In the midst of the Great Recession retailers are already rolling out deals for Black Friday, the blockbuster shopping day after Thanksgiving. Every year thousands of shoppers line up outside of the nation’s largest retailers in the wee hours of the morning hoping to snag an LCD TV for $399 or navigation system for $99.  The name “Black Friday” itself is actually a reference to profit because retailers generally become profitable during this part of the year, or are “in the black.”

With the national unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, retailers are trying to buoy sales as consumers cut back on discretionary spending. Most retailers have been responsive to the new found frugality of consumers and Walmart’s CEO recently announced the firm would be cutting prices weekly on top-selling items and holding those price cuts through the holidays.

The deals being touted this year have started far earlier than in previous years with many retailers offering Black Friday-esque deals weeks in advance. Walmart has practically been giving products away – last week, shoppers who bought either a Blackberry or Xbox 360, were given a $100 Walmart gift card.  The company also dropped prices on other electronic devices.

In regards to pricing, Walmart has indeed been on the offensive.  Most notably, the company has started a highly publicized all-out price war with Target and online-retailer Amazon.com. When Walmart offered numerous pre-release DVDs like “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” at $10, Amazon.com quickly dropped their prices on the same DVDs to $9.99. Walmart responded instantly by dropping prices to $9.98. Just last month the three companies engaged in a similar price war on popular books, including Sarah Palin’s new book “Going Rouge.”

Many have even taken their advertising blitz to social media Web sites like Twitter and Facebook.  Staples, an office supply retailer, used Twitter to announce price cuts upwards of 50 percent on products ranging from laptops to computer monitors.

Despite the attempts to boost sales during the recession, however, analysts are mixed as to how holiday sales will pan out. According to Bloomberg Analysts’ holiday sales estimates vary from a one percent decline to a nearly three percent gain over last year. The retail sector has posted negative year-over-year sales every month for more than a year, according to Thomson Reuters.

Those looking to search for the best deals have numerous resources available to them on the Internet.  Shoppers can head to bfads.net, dealnews.com, blackfriday.fm, black-friday.net, blackfriday.info or dealtaker.com for a roundup of some of the best deals available online and in stores.

The abundance of deals is sure to spur demand for numerous products.  So, if you’re looking for a new laptop, TV, shoes or anything else, be sure to act quickly as these outstanding deals aren’t here to stay.