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Companies Are Trying To Get Shoppers Back In The Stores With Doorbusters


Black Friday has historically been the busiest shopping day of the year. Lately more people are going online to find deals. And so this year, NPR's Alina Selyukh reports some stores are saving their best deals for those who show up in person.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: Phil Dengler is the kind of person who will rattle off a ton of details about Black Friday sales. Like, here's an example.

PHIL DENGLER: Target's actually open from 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 12 a.m. this year, and they're going to be closed for six hours this year.

SELYUKH: Right. Store opening hours, shopping trends, best doorbuster deals - this week is his game day. He runs a website called, and it's frequently cited for its tracking of what major stores are up to for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. He and I spoke over Skype, and here's a hugely important factor that Dengler points out.

DENGLER: Prior to 2016, foot traffic on Thanksgiving had been going up. But last year, it actually reversed. It was actually down 1 percent on Thanksgiving.

SELYUKH: For some reason, last year, fewer people decided to physically go do some shopping on Thanksgiving Day. This is confirmed in a study by a firm that counts shoppers that go to malls and stores called ShopperTrak. It found that shopper visits last year declined for Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined. Now put that together with another interesting trend that Dengler has noticed.

DENGLER: Pretty much 2012, 2013, most of the top doorbusters were in-store only.

SELYUKH: Meaning some five years ago, you had to go in person to get the biggest discounts. And then for the following few years, stores decided to go after online shoppers.

DENGLER: Most, if not all, the doorbusters were available on Thanksgiving and Black Friday online, too.

SELYUKH: The rise of e-commerce has been formidable. Amazon is of course a major player, but the stores generally have been trying to catch buyers wherever they are. And increasingly, they're on their phones. But remember that declining foot traffic? Dengler and his team track the best sales obsessively.

DENGLER: For whatever reason, 2017 - we're noticing that some of the top doorbusters on Thanksgiving night are available in-store only.

SELYUKH: The top deals Dengler mentions center around the 4k television. This is the ultra-high-definition TVs that are being promoted especially for video games and streaming. These TVs are actually topping many doorbuster rankings for the year. Best Buy, Target and other stores are lining up these TVs for a fraction of their cost. Alina Selyukh, NPR News.