One Pasadena-based retailer has joined the movement to spread Black Friday sales across an entire week this season. Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Store has followed retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Sears Holdings Corp. in starting Black Friday sales a week early in anticipation of the shortened holiday selling period. This year’s holiday season, running from Thanksgiving to Christmas, is six days shorter than last year’s.
The Disney retail subsidiary, which is calling its promotional sale Magical Week, started the sale last Friday. It will run for a week online and in its 215 North American stores. The earlier start is a first for the company. Disney Store had promotions last year that began the Monday before Thanksgiving, but the retailer has never started the previous Friday.
“We have fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rather than making our sales a one-day event, we’re making it a weeklong event,” said Julie Sneddon, executive vice president of Disney Store Worldwide. She said the company started getting ready for this year’s holiday sales in July and plans to hire about 3,500 additional employees for the season. Sneddon declined to give the retailer’s sales figures, but its parent company reported that consumer products generated more than $3.5 billion for the year ended Sept. 28.
She said that she expects merchandise based on the “Toy Story” and “Planes” films as well as a “Sofia the First” singing doll to be popular this season. Items will range from about $8 to $120. Sneddon said the company will offer deals on various Disney-branded merchandise all week and will entice shoppers with additional deals on Thanksgiving and Magical Friday, the company’s term for Black Friday. Like many other retailers this season, many Disney Stores are opening at midnight after Thanksgiving dinner.
Greg Rice, managing director of Culver City brand consultancy firm Kelton Global, said opening Thanksgiving could potentially help sales but could also alienate some customers. “Opening on Thanksgiving is a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma for consumers. Some love it, some feel it’s totally treading on Thanksgiving. There’s some controversy for retailers doing it,” Rice said. Still, Rice expects longer Black Friday promotional periods to be the norm in years to come.
“Longer sales periods started last year, but it was accelerated this year because of the shorter selling window,” he said. “Retailers will try stuff until it doesn’t work. Given the fact that stores are opening earlier this year opposed to last year suggests that last year’s experiment was successful.”