Retailers lure shoppers into stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving with bargains and doorbuster specials. (Photo: Michael E. Keating, AP)
Retailers and deal sites have already started their annual game of
Leak-the-Black-Friday-ad. But it's starting to look like stores' fights
to keep the ads off deal sites may be as much about posturing as they
are about confidentiality.
More than 30 retailers' ads have
already been released - somehow - to deal sites this holiday season. By
Tuesday afternoon, sites had already gotten copies of ads for deals
starting the day after Thanksgiving for stores including Sports
Authority, RadioShack and Kmart.
On Monday, Macy's released a "sneak peek" of 15 of its Black Friday deals. The same day, BFAds.net published the department store's 52-page Thanksgiving Day circular. FatWallet.com says it held off publishing it at Macy's request, but then published it Tuesday. BradsDeals.com says it still hasn't published it because Macy's asked it not to.
have not authorized any release of information at this point beyond
what was included in yesterday's news release," said Macy's spokesman
Jim Sluzewski. He says it's hard for consumers to know what's accurate
"when the information does not originate from Macy's."
Ace Hardware's Black Friday ad reappeared on deal sites, replacing a
"cease and desist" letter Ace's lawyers had sent earlier in the week
insisting the ads be taken down. Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com,
says the lawyers sent an "approved" ad that was identical to the ad his
BlackFriday. BradsDeals.com site had posted earlier in the week.
were likely either trying to manage the timing of the release, or
someone higher up realized how dumb it was to get in the way of free
advertising and righted their lawyer's wrong," Wilson says. "We
basically fell for their 'Ace has not approved the proof' accuracy
Ace declined to comment.
The ads come to deal sites
in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are poorly reproduced versions of
ads, which Wilson believes probably come from print shop workers using
their cellphone cameras. Other times, they are good copies sent from
personal e-mail accounts that Wilson suspects are from company officials
trying to appear unofficial. And then Wilson says there is the
"outright, transparent calculated leak," which tends to come from a "VP
of marketing, saying 'Go ahead.'
"If the ad stays up for more than
a few hours, it's most likely implicit that the retailer is fine with
it being public," says Brent Shelton, spokesman for FatWallet.com. "Of
course, they may have just missed the ad leaking right away or their
process for a C&D may take longer than others."
which would not comment, has probably been the most aggressive in
sending out cease-and-desist letters asking sites to take down the
discounter's Black Friday ads. It recently started sending pre-emptive
C&D letters. Still, BFAds.net said in an online post last year that
Wal-Mart said it could post the discounter's Black Friday 2010 deals ad
six days early and the 2009 one five days early.
year, however, Wal-Mart released their Black Friday deals on its own
Facebook page two full weeks before Black Friday, which BFAds.net
founder Michael Brim says was "easily the earliest their ad has ever
"I think retailers are finally starting to realize
the advertising and promotional benefit of having their Black Friday ads
out early," Brim says.
BradsDeals.com's picks for the five best Black Friday promotions - so far:
--RadioShack Samsung Galaxy S III.
This phone is $49.99 with a two-year Sprint contract, saving $150 over
the usual price with contract. This isn't better than Sprint's own
offer, but RadioShack is also giving customers $10 of store credit for
every $50 they spend. Wilson suggests throwing in an inexpensive pack of
batteries for $1.99 to get the total over $50, qualify for the credit
and get the best deal so far on this phone.
--RadioShack Kindle Fire HD.
At $199.99, it's not actually marked down, but you get $30 in store
credit. Get your order over $200 and you get $40 in store credit.
Staples has a similar Kindle promotion but BradsDeals says RadioShack's
cash-back deal is better than the Staples gift card.
--Bealls $5 Barbie Dolls. Select Barbie dolls will be $5 at Bealls on Black Friday. These dolls are normally priced between $15 and $20.
--Sports Authority golf clubs.
Tommy Armour Silver Scot complete set of men's or women's golf clubs.
These sets normally retail at $599.99, but Sports Authority will have
them for $199.99.
--Dell Inspiron 14z Laptop. At $299.99,
this limited-quantity doorbuster will not last. Includes 2nd generation
Intel Core i3 processor, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4GB memory and 500GB
hard drive, and usually retails for $599.99.