Black Friday has changed.

I remember a time when all the stores tired like hell to keep their ads for the annual Black Friday sale a secret and they’d get so pissed when someone leaked the ad early. These days they make Black Friday a month-long sale:

That’s just from emails I received in the past week or so.

Additionally, there’s a growing trend of sending out the actual Black Friday ads ahead of time. The folks at DealNews.com have a schedule of expected release dates for Black Friday ads. As you can see below, Kohl’s, Dell, Office Depot, and Petco have already sent out their BF ads.

Why, it’s almost like they realized that people wanted this info ahead of time and releasing it early was a good way to stir up interest. Some companies these days are having “Black Friday” sales during other months to try and drum up more sales.

I don’t really have a point to make with this entry, I just thought it was interesting in how things have changed. Once a closely guarded secret and now it’s promoted heavily ahead of time. Partially because it’s become common knowledge that the best deals are to be had on Black Friday. Except it turns out that’s probably not the case at all. Or at least, not on everything you might be shopping for

There are things that are a good deal and things you should probably avoid. The folks at HuffPost had an article last year on what to look for and what to avoid.

Spending on Black Friday had a meteoric rise from $26 billion in 2005 to $67.6 billion as of 2015.

However, competition among retailers and an oversaturation of deals mean ads are leaked increasingly earlier, discounts have become less competitive, and Black Friday has become more like Black November. In fact, the best deals aren’t actually on Black Friday. With the addition of Cyber MondaySuper Saturday and pretty much every other day of the year you can find deep discounts, Black Friday deals aren’t as compelling as they once were.

Black Friday Deals Are Mostly Dead. Here’s What You Should ― And Shouldn’t ― Buy. HuffPost.com

The advice in that article is still pretty solid. Or, you can do like I do, and just avoid it altogether by eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey and playing video games all day on Friday. It probably helps that in the past couple of years I’ve not had the extra money to do any shopping with on Black Friday in the first place, but even if I did I’d probably not bother going out and fighting the crowds. What about you guys? Do you still make the trip out to find the best deals?

I wanna be a (pretend) rock star!

I’m not usually one for rhythm based games, but I have gotten rather fond of Harmonix’s Rock Band as a result of playing it at work. The fact that the game, along with all the instruments, cost $160+ at launch pretty much has kept me from picking up the game for home. Of course that price is from over two years ago and today you can get Rock Band Special Edition, which comes with the instruments, for $99.

That still wasn’t good enough for me so I’ve been holding out for a really good deal. Which has been frustrating because all the really good deals for the past several months have been for various iterations of Guitar Hero, RB’s main competition.  Those almost tempted me into picking up a GH game, but two things have kept me from doing so: 1) I wasn’t sure if I’d like the GH guitar controller as much as I like RB’s and 2) the pending release of The Beatles Rock Band. I’m a huge fan of The Beatles so when it was announced that RB had nailed down a license with them that pretty much sealed the deal for me.

Today my patience has been rewarded. The folks at MTV/Harmonix are now offering the Rock Band Mega Bundle which gives you Rock Band Special Edition for the PS3 or Xbox 360 plus a copy of Rock Band 2 and a copy of Rock Band AC/DC Track Pack for $99 ($115 after S/H). Two full games, all the instruments, plus a bunch of extra songs for the same price as just the first game alone? That’s a savings I can sink my teeth into even if I’m not a huge fan of AC/DC.

We’re considering it an early birthday present for me as my birthday is on the 25th. Though if it does take the 10 to 14 days to ship the site says it might then it may not be all that early of a present. Still I’ll be ready when The Beatles Rock Band is released sometime later this year. JethricOne has been playing RB on his PS2 with his daughter for some time now and we’re already making plans to get together and jam out on RB2. The fact that J1 is willing to sing just shows you how addictive this game can be. At some point I’ll have to look into a decent second guitar to pick up so someone can play bass in the band.

Toshiba 32” 1080P LCD HDTV + 80GB PS3 + Blu-ray movie = $997

I don’t normally post deals on SEB because they tend to be fleeting, but this was too good not to mention. If you’re in the market for a new LCD HDTV and a PS3 then you might want to cheack out this offering from Walmart. Yes I know it’s Walmart and I’m not a huge fan of Walmart, but a deal is a deal and this seems a pretty good one.

It includes a Toshiba 32” Regza 1080P LCD HDTV, an 80GB PS3, the PS3 Blu-ray Remote Control, and your choice of either a Blu-ray movie of your choice (from a list of 27 options) or a HDMI cable. The movies being offered include 300, I Am Legend, and Reservoir Dogs so they’re not all craptastic titles. If you want it shipped it’ll ad $20 to the cost or you can pick it up at your local store. There’s sales tax to consider as well, but it’s still a helluva deal.

Seems the holiday deals are getting warmed up. Just thought some of you would like to know.

Deal News.com - Black Friday is no longer a day, it’s a season.

Even though I rarely have extra cash laying around these days I still make a habit of keeping up with various websites such as Deal News.com which specialize in finding and promoting deals (natch). In addition to finding literally hundreds of deals every day they occasionally have an article about shopping such as the following discussing how Black Friday is expanding:

Black Friday Is No Longer a Day, It’s a Season

When most people think of Black Friday, they think of the day after Thanksgiving. But the fact is, over the past several years, the idea of “Black Friday” has been expanding.

In previous years, Black Friday had become a two-day event, since many Black Friday sales are available online on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, however, Wal-Mart upped the ante with its “Secret Sale” promotion. That sale started exactly three weeks before Black Friday. It featured a high-definition DVD player (HD-DVD) for $99, Acer laptop for $348, and 50” plasma TV for $999, prices that are still aggressive a year later. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart received millions of dollars worth of free PR for its “Secret Sale” (a misnomer if ever there was one). Importantly, Best Buy beat Wal-Mart’s price on the HD-DVD player that day, showing a willingness to compete with its own loss leader and getting its own free PR.

Wal-Mart’s goal was to extend the halo from Black Friday into multiple high-buzz sales events throughout November. You’re likely to see the same game plan this year from Wal-Mart, which enters this holiday season much healthier than its competitors. And where Wal-Mart goes, Best Buy, Target, and the others must follow. It’s a live-or-die holiday season for many stores this year. Retailers can’t ignore the power of huge, “Black Friday”-like sales events on the run up to Thanksgiving.

And if a retailer is thinking about not competing, it had better think twice. Four years ago, Wal-Mart skipped Black Friday entirely, with no major ad push and no “doorbusters.” The result was the worst after-Thanksgiving sales weekend for Wal-Mart in years. Retailers who don’t want to compete with Wal-Mart by expanding Black Friday into a month-long event run the risk of having bad sales for an entire month, a death knell for most.

The article goes on to talk about how a lot of stores have to borrow in order to purchase their merchandise and then hope they make enough off the sales to pay off the loan and turn a profit, but with the current credit crunch, thanks to the assholes on Wall Street, that business model is a very difficult one to maintain. Banks are being very stingy with credit and the fact that the banks know consumers are cutting back on unnecessary purchases makes them even less open to giving out credit to retailers. Combine that with the fact that many retailers are struggling and things could get bloody:

Every year, a few struggling retailers file for bankruptcy (or go out of business entirely) after Christmas. It’s a normal cycle. However, that’s changing. Last season, CompUSA started liquidating its stores in early December, and it was completely gone by January. (The new CompUSA is now run by TigerDirect.)

This year, things have gotten worse. Linens ‘n Things is already bankrupt. It’s liquidating its stock online and in stores before closing shop. Circuit City is trying to avert bankruptcy by closing over 100 stores and laying off thousands of employees. Mervyns is closing all 175 stores. JC Penney is in trouble. Sears is closing yet more stores. And it’s just October.

Make no mistake: Thousands of jobs are at stake, and so many stores going out of business is bad over the long-term. But in the short term, these stores must liquidate their inventory. Consumers benefit from liquidation sales. Plus, you’ll soon see more closeouts at stores like Buy.com, Woot, Fry’s Electronics, TigerDirect, and others that resell distressed inventory.

Which means, ironically enough, there’s some excellent deals about to come down the pike. Deal News.com is estimating that the deals we’ll see this season will be the best since the days of the first dot.com bubble (2001):

It’s a perfect storm: Consumers have cut back spending. Stores must slash prices to drive traffic to their stores. Competition and reduced margins will drive struggling stores into bankruptcy. The credit crisis will hammer bankrupt stores, forcing them to auction off their inventory to those liquidators that still have access to cash. And finally, a $2,000 HDTV pops up on Buy.com for $1,199.

I knew I should’ve held off on buying a new LCD TV until the fall. Of course that’d have meant no TV or movie watching for three or so months so I suppose it works out in the wash.

If you’ve got any spare money this year, assuming you’re not in the same boat I am, then it’s going to be a great time to shop. If you’re a retailer, though, then things are going to be very rough.

Looks like my college is having a used computer sale.

They have a lot of PCs and such available, mostly older Dell Optiplex GX260 Minitowers, but they’re also selling some older Macs. I’m tempted to pick one up as it seems reasonably cheap. Here’s the most expensive one they’re selling:

iMac G4
800MHz processors
60 GB Hard drive
512 MB Ram
Superdrive
OS X

They’re asking $75 for ‘em. Is it worth it? There’s also the following:

EMac G4
1 GHz
512mb
20 GB Hard Drive
Combo Drive
OS X
Monitor is part of the system.

It’s going for $50. Which seems odd considering it’s a faster processor, but then I’ve never heard of an EMac.

[Update:] OK the one I’m really thinking about now is:

Mac G4 Tower
867MHz processors
40 GB Hard drive
512 MB Ram
DVD/CDRW
Zip drive
OS X
CRT Monitor

Going for $70.

Getting a $169.99 office chair for $8.47? Priceless. [Updated!]

Update: In the end Office Depot reneged on the deal, but didn’t bother to tell any actual customers. Seems about three hours after the deal went live they realized they had screwed up and sent out a memo from corporate to all the stores saying not to honor the deal, but they didn’t bother to send any emails to those of us who had purchased a chair. So almost 24 hours later when I wandered into the store I was somewhat annoyed to be told that the deal wouldn’t be honored. I understood why and I didn’t complain about that, but it would’ve been nice to have gotten some sort of a notification so I wouldn’t have wasted time and gas driving to the store for nothing. I had them verify that my debit card wasn’t charged (it was still showing a hold on the amount) and got a receipt showing that I shouldn’t be and I mentioned that they should really notify customers when they cancel a deal like that seeing as how they force us to include an email address and I went on my way.

Remember how I talked about friends of mine in an earlier thread that are into min-maxing the rules of life? Well, I’m not entirely above it myself which is why I have an subscription to the Deal News.com RSS feed. Just over two hours ago they listed a deal on a RS To•Go™ Tufted-Vinyl High-Back Chair at Office Depot that sent me scrambling for my wallet. According to the Office Depot site the chair normally lists for $169.99 and they were applying an instant discount that reduced it to $99.99. A good start to be sure, but if then you add in two coupon codes provided in the Deal News.com entry you’d knock another $90 off the price of the chair plus an additional 20%.

Final cost on my debit card after opting for in-store pickup thus eliminating shipping costs: $8.47.

Not too shabby at all. Even if the chair ends up being total crap it’s still a helluva deal. If I could have used the coupon code twice I’d have ordered two. In fact I called and spoke with the store manager as we really could use two of these chairs—one for Anne and one for Courtney—once we move into the new apartment and I asked him if he’d be willing to in essence price-match my receipt on a second chair. He said he could put the code for the $90 off into the computer in the store, but not the 20% one so if I didn’t mind paying another buck and some change for the second chair he’d be willing to set two aside for me to pick up on the way home tomorrow (the store is a mile or so from where I work). I said that was perfectly fine with me.

As it turns out I got in on the tail end of the action as when my sister-in-law attempted to replicate the deal not 20 minutes later she was notified that “THIS ITEM HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED.” The store manager I spoke with said he’d already gotten four other phone calls within the previous 10 minutes so it’s clear that the word got out really quickly. Now it’ll be interesting to see if Office Depot honors the deal. I’ve already gotten an email confirmation of the one purchase I was able to make so I’d expect they’d at least honor that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they tell me they can’t replicate the deal on a second chair even though the coupon is supposed to be good until Saturday. Though so long as I get at least one chair I’d be more than tickled pink.