Finicky Black Friday Shoppers Demand Deals; Retailers and Malls Deliver
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Retailers and shopping centers will be pulling out all the stops on Black Friday to grab a share of the $13.1 billion in sales that the long holiday weekend is expected to generate, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

Target, for one, will distribute Christmas crackers filled with coupons and gift certificates to shoppers when its doors open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Macy's will be encouraging shoppers to use its mobile app to scan QR codes placed around each store to receive prizes, including $250 gift certificates. And Canadian landlord IvanhoƩ Cambridge has launched a $25,000 shopping spree to be awarded to one of the shoppers at its 21 malls on Black Friday.

Such sales gimmicks are worth the effort, observers say, as the number of people prepping for Black Friday shopping excursions is flat, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey of 7,000 Americans. About 60 percent of the respondents said they will or may shop on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. In total, NRF expects 140 million consumers to shop over Thanksgiving weekend both in stores and online.

"Consumers today want more than just the discounts they've been showered with since the start of the recession; they want exclusive offerings and a good reason to spend their discretionary budgets," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. "We could witness a sea change this holiday season as consumers' reliance on extremely deep discounts over the biggest shopping weekend of the year shifts to more of a 'wait- and-see' mentality around what retailers will be offering on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. We are positive retailers have a few tricks up their sleeve that will draw their customers to their stores and websites, deciding the deals are worth it after all."

Discounts will be steep, as retailers do their best to stand out in an increasingly crowded field, analysts predict. In its analysis of Black Friday deals, personal-finance social network WalletHub reports that the overall average discount is about 39 percent. The group says that JCPenney has the highest overall discount rate among the retailers it surveyed, at 65 percent. Macy's came in second, with an average discount of 54 percent.