Office Depot is rolling out holiday deals early, launching Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions on its website and in its retail stores the day before Halloween.
Black Friday deals on laptops, tablets, virtual reality headsets, computer accessories and furniture are available now through Nov. 6, and other holiday bargains will ramp up in the days ahead, the office supplies retailer said.
Research shows that consumers are starting their shopping early in what could be a record-breaking holiday sales year.
E-commerce and frustration with long (and sometimes dangerous) lines on Black Friday have muted that day’s importance in retail in the past several years. Indeed, a great majority of shoppers — a whopping 79%, in fact — don't enjoy Black Friday. They find it stressful and even dangerous, according to deal site BestBlackFriday.com, which conducted a survey on the sales holiday last year.
The challenge for many retailers is to get their promotions in front of shoppers as early as possible, especially considering that a quick smartphones and desktop search can reveal to them whether a retailer’s prices are really lower than its competitors’.
With several retailers competing on price all year round, Black Friday deals have to be ever more spectacular, driving margins to the thinnest edge of the wedge. And with e-commerce available anywhere anytime, especially now on mobile, there’s little point in busting down a door to get a deal, safety hazard or not.
That makes exclusive and differentiated merchandise even more important because direct price comparisons are impossible on items that can’t be found anywhere else. In the face of a price war launched by Wal-Mart, for example, Target has ramped up its exclusive offerings and is dedicating holiday shops within its stores to make finding gifts and decorations easier.
Office Depot, which is deals in merchandise widely available from competing merchants, has fewer opportunities to offer the kinds of gift items that can’t be found elsewhere, so price and early promotions must take precedence.
The pre-Black Friday deals signal Office Depot's latest attempt to move forward in the aftermath of its failed merger with rival Staples. In August the company reported second quarter profit of $210 million, up from a loss of $58 million in the same period a year ago. Office Depot also announced the completion of the first phase of a U.S. retail store optimization initiative launched in 2014, resulting in the closure of 400 stores, and said it is targeting approximately 300 additional store closures over the next three years.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2016 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page for more stories.