Will Daily Deal Sites Celebrate Black Friday this Year?

By Laura Heller, dealnews writer

Every day is almost like Black Friday when it comes to daily deal sites, but how do their offers stack up against deals from retailers on the actual shopping holiday itself?

Last year around Black Friday, these group buying sites caught some flack for offering the same type of deals they normally do; there were no special bargains or sales. This year, will they quell criticism and provide something new? Or will the discounted products, services, and store credits be of average caliber once again?

Hope for Daily Deal Black Friday Sales

LivingSocial announced a slate of more than 20 national deals with large retailers that will kick off on Black Friday. A second set of deals with online retailers will go live on Cyber Monday. This will be the first set of special Black Friday offers the site has done.

Rumored deals may include a $20 Credit at OfficeMax for $10 and a $50 Credit at Verizon Wireless for $25. (See more vendors here). While some of the teased merchants are enticing (namely Wine.com and Shari's Berries, for post–Black Friday relaxation), we've seen excellent credits from many of them in the past. Will these be better? Or is the Black Friday label merely an add-on?

Groupon promises that it too, will have some big names and big deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. "Right now don't have anything to share about Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but we'll definitely be doing something," says Kelsey O'Neill, a Groupon spokeswoman.

In advance of Black Friday, Groupon launched Grouponicus, a play on Seinfeld's Festivus. The deals are meant to be redeemed and given as gifts. Each deal expires before Christmas, ensuring the buyer will have a gift, not a Groupon, to give to their intended. At the moment, however, the special section appears to be a reshuffling of their standard offers.

Deal sites in general will also likely offer more specials on individual products on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season, in addition to the plethora of restaurant, salon, and activity-based deals.

Different Strategies May Explain the Approach to Black Friday

Traditional retailers plan Black Friday almost a full year in advance. Most take January off from holiday marketing and then resume setting up the next season, working with suppliers to identify hot items, nail down access to inventory, and determine prices and exclusivity. It's an endless sales cycle, and one that must be meticulously planned.

Conversely, daily deal sites lend themselves to more spontaneity. Each deal is still planned out, but not with the same chess-master game-level of precision. Groupon and Living Social have both run deals with national retail chains, The Gap and Whole Foods, respectively, and both were massively successful in terms of the number of deals sold. However, on average, the bulk of group deals sold each day are for smaller, local businesses. Much like Small Business Saturday, daily deal sites have the ability to promote and support a Renaissance for small business this holiday season.

We'll be sure to keep an eye on the daily deal sites during Black Friday weekend, and we'll of course put their offers into perspective, comparing them to prior deals. Sign up for an email alert to be notified as soon as we publish deals for these sites, and to get a jump on the best deals online.

Front page photo credit: Small Biz Bee

Laura Heller is a freelance writer based in Chicago who specializes in mass market retail trends and consumer electronics industries. You can follow her on Twitter @lfheller. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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