NEW YORK, United States — Black Friday weekend is the year’s biggest promotional event for most major U.S. retailers, and yet there are prominent holdouts ignoring it — or at least being discreet about their specials.
Tiffany & Co., Dollar Tree Inc. and T.J. Maxx are among the chains that aren’t promoting Black Friday on their websites. That’s a sharp contrast with the supersized fonts advertising sales at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Macy’s Inc. and Best Buy Co.
In avoiding the promotional blitz, premium brands are trying to preserve their reputations, said Keith Jelinek, who tracks the retail industry for FTI Consulting Inc. in Boston. At the other end of the spectrum, lower-end chains are confident that consumers already associate them with getting a good deal.
“The perception with the consumer is that that’s a value I can get everyday,” Jelinek said. “They’re already drawing that consumer in.”
Apple Inc. is another chain taking a low-key approach to Black Friday. The company will offer iTunes gift cards to shoppers who buy certain products and make a donation to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.
“Let’s make Friday more than the start of the shopping season,” Apple said in a note on its website, without mentioning Black Friday by name.
T.J. Maxx, the budget-apparel chain owned by TJX Cos., has plenty of Christmas colors on its site, though no Black Friday mentions. TJX stores also are closed on Thanksgiving, bucking the trend of retail hours encroaching on the holiday.
“Our off-price businesses offer tremendous value on great fashions and brands every day, and we therefore do not generally participate in the types of sales events that are common among many traditional retailers,” said Doreen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Framingham, Massachusetts-based TJX.
Some groups are literally boycotting Black Friday this year. An organization called Blackout for Human Rights is urging shoppers to skip the shopping day to protest police brutality. The movement gained steam after a grand jury in Missouri declined to indict the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
The labor group Our Walmart is planning strikes at Wal-Mart through Black Friday in search of higher wages. Demonstrators at a store in Washington, D.C., have been holding a sit-down strike, the group said.
An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers are expected to hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years.
While Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, had long been retailers’ main day for doorbusters, deals now stretch from Thursday to the following Monday. Most major U.S. chains will operate stores for at least part of Thanksgiving, and many are opening earlier on the holiday than they used to.
Along with extending hours on Thanksgiving, retailers are in a race to the bottom with their doorbuster specials. Wal-Mart will start its deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving with an RCA tablet for $29, $1.96 DVDs and a 50-inch high-definition television for $218. Best Buy begins at 5 p.m. that day with a 55-inch Samsung 4K television for $899, down from $1,400.
Dollar Tree, meanwhile, doesn’t expect to join the Black Friday crowd any time soon, said Randy Guiler, a spokesman for the Chesapeake, Virginia-based company.
“We sell our items for $1 or less all year round, so we feel were already providing a great value to our consumers,” he said.
By Matt Townsend, Lauren Coleman-Lochner, Lindsey Rupp; with assistance from Tim Higgins. Editors: Nick Turner, James Callan.