Black Friday shopping typically involves the most inventive, discounted sales of the year.
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This year, with waning sales, stiff competition and the new trend of comparison shopping via smartphone apps, both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are pulling out all the stops to win over customers.
According to a recent consumer survey by the bargain website DealNews.com, just 2% of Black Friday shoppers will shop solely in stores, while 28% will shop purely online. But retailers aim to change that stat.
New services offered this year by brick-and-mortar stores include: reserved parking spots, complimentary food and drink, survival kits of energy bars, water and coffee coupons, safe stations that will hold people's packages while they peruse and spend, and security guard escorts who will personally carry loads of gifts to parked cars.
At Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, a tailor shop will check coats for a $1, with proceeds collected benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Salvation Army.
Some of the more upscale stores are even offering VIP lounges where shoppers can nosh, nibble, receive complimentary goodie bags, and relax until they feel rested enough to again face the maddening crowds.
John D. Morris, a senior retail analyst with BMO Capital Markets told The Wall Street Journal of this move by retailers, "It's their way of telling shoppers, "We feel your pain.'"