2014’s Black Friday will be vastly different than its recent predecessors. The unemployment rate in the U.S. was 5.9 percent for September, down from 7.2 percent a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number also represents the lowest level of unemployment since July 2008. Moreover, market research firm Lundberg Survey found that average gas prices across the country as of late October are the lowest since December 2010.
Overall economic conditions are relatively favorable, which means more money in shoppers’ pockets to spend this holiday season. But Black Friday 2014 will be unique for five more reasons that extend beyond economics.
The 2014 Holiday Hiring Forecast by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, predicts retailers will hire 800,000 seasonal workers this year. It will be the first time since the 1999 holiday season retail hiring exceeded that number.
Duncan Mac Naughton, Chief Merchandising Officer for Walmart, told Fortune magazine that the world’s largest retailer will add 60,000 seasonal workers for the Thanksgiving Black Friday rush to help eliminate long waits.
Target and Kohl’s have also indicated they would ramp up holiday hiring, while UPS plans to hire 95,000 seasonal workers in anticipation of an extremely busy holiday shipping season.
The 2014 Internet Advertising Revenue Report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 68 percent of customers stopped an imminent in-store purchase after finding a lower price online at a different store. Retail executives have caught onto this phenomenon and are reacting accordingly.
Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target and Walmart are just a few of the large retail chains that will offer some form of price matching through Black Friday. Best Buy simply requires a printout of the website selling the identical item for a lower price, while Target limits price matching to certain competitors.
Guaranteed Doorbuster Sales
Doorbuster sales are meant to get shoppers into the store by offering products at deep discounts for the first few hours of Black Friday. But it’s happened to many people at least once: you show up to the store and discover the item is already sold out.
DealNews anticipates more retailers will offer guaranteed doorbusters. This strategy gets customers in the door and curtails those potentially violent encounters that have unfortunately become synonymous with Black Friday shoppers.
Cheap 4K TVs
It was only a few years ago when consumers could expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for a 4K TV. But technology has lowered production costs, which resulted in market saturation and ultimately lower prices.
A brand new Seiki 39-inch 4K TV can be had today for under $400 at numerous retailers. Several shopping bloggers are predicting smaller 4K TVs will sell for under $300 on Black Friday. The shopping site Brad’s Deals offers additional predictions about the best buys for Black Friday this year.
Apple released its new Apple Pay mobile payment system on October 20 to compete with Google Wallet. CEO Time Cook told the Wall Street Journal the company had already activated more than one million credit card numbers in the first 72 hours of the release.
Several large retail chains like CVS, Bed Bath & Beyond and Gap have balked at the new mobile payment platform due to the swipe fee they’re charged whenever a customer pays with the service. But Cook dismissed retailers’ refusal to accept it as a mere “skirmish” and anticipates the issue being resolved by Black Friday.