AARP Eye Center
Shopping for doorbuster deals used to be pretty simple.
Not that it was easy — it typically involved lining up for hours in the predawn chill on Black Friday (or, at some stores, in the Thanksgiving dusk). But it was straightforward: When the store doors opened, you made a beeline for the handful of flat-screen TVs or next-gen iPhones available at a super markdown, maybe jostling a few fellow shoppers aside to get there first.
With the growth of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar doorbusters have receded as the default mode of Black Friday shopping, especially in this pandemic year. Seven in 10 respondents to a holiday shopping survey by BlackFriday.com said stores should either close on Black Friday or eschew doorbusters — and that was in August, before the fall spike in COVID-19 cases.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
Still, the doorbuster hasn't disappeared, shopping experts say — it has just gone digital.
"A doorbuster can be something that gives a retailer an edge on a major sale day, by encouraging consumers to do a lot of their shopping in one location,” says Casey Runyan, managing editor of discount guide Brad's Deals. “The shift to online shopping makes that trickier, but there is still an advantage for retailers that can give consumers a reason to spend money with them before shopping at other stores."
That means plenty of savings opportunities for the 54 percent of shoppers who plan to make purchases on Black Friday (and the 60 percent who anticipate doing so on Cyber Monday), according to a new AARP holiday survey.
So, what makes a deal a doorbuster if there's no door to bust?
Price. “I would say broadly that a discount of 30 percent off or more for popular name-brand products and closer to 40 percent off or more for lesser-known products would constitute a doorbuster,” says smart-shopping guru Trae Bodge, who tracks deals year-round at her site True Trae.
Product. “Deals that have that doorbuster feel are heavily advertised, have prices that catch the eye, and often are in hot or trendy product categories like TVs, air fryers or stand mixers,” says Nathan Burrow, deals editor for Wirecutter, the New York Times’ product-review site.
Scarcity. Doorbusters are typically available for a limited time and in short supply, says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at coupon clearinghouse RetailMeNot. While the days of having only two or three of a hot item at the doorbuster price are past, many stores do limit stocks for top deals.
Skirboll expects retailers “to get creative and host online doorbusters, potentially with flash sales and online queues to try and mimic the in-store experience."