Looks like more Americans may brave the Black Friday crowds this year. A new study from the National Retail Federation and BIGresearch reports that as many as 134 million will shop this Friday, Saturday or Sunday -- an increase from 128 million who said they planned to do so last year. Of those, 57 million people say they will definitely shop, while 77 million will wait to see what kind of deals are out there.
And a survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers reports that 26% of Americans say they plan to shop on Friday itself, with an impressive 36.2% of those shoppers planning to eat their Wheaties and hit the stores between 4 and 8 a.m. Younger people are the most ambitious: Among the 18 to 34 demographic, 36% say they will shop on Black Friday.
"With retailers fully aware that shoppers are looking for incredible deals, Americans can expect huge sales on popular items like toys, electronics and apparel," the NRF says in its forecast.
America's favorite deal-finding methods this year are coupons (which will be used by 40.6% of respondents), newspaper circulars (38.2%), TV ads (27.8%) and word of mouth (26.5%).
The NRF also surveyed shoppers on their specific shopping plans, and found that 66.3% plan to shop at a discounter this weekend, 62.3% plan to visit a department store, 41% will head to an electronics stores, and 36.3% will visit a clothing or accessories store. And as more and more retailers load their online offerings with special promotions, 27.6% will also shop online.
(A separate survey from Shop.org, NRF's online division, earlier reported that 58.7% of retailers say they will use the Internet to drive store traffic as much as they did one year ago, 78% will use email marketing, and 54% will feature Black Friday specials on their home page.)
In order to increase sales, Shop.org's CyberMonday.com, which features promotions and deals from more than 700 retailers, says it will run a Deal of the Hour special on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, including special offers from companies like Overstock.com, Sears and American Eagle.
But increasingly, retailers are looking for any way possible to get a jump on CyberMonday. Target, for example, just announced that for the first time ever, it would host an online sale all Thanksgiving day. (Rival Walmart.com already does so.)