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Stores usher Black Friday with easier ways to get deals

Updated : 2018-11-23 12:43:41

Retailers aren't just ushering the official start of the holiday season with the usual expanded hours and fat discounts on big TVs and toys.

They're offering new ways for shoppers to get deals online and in the store easier and faster in the age of instant gratification.

Walmart introduced a digital map on its mobile app to make it easier for shoppers to find an item's exact location in the store. Kohl's has a new feature on its mobile app that lets customers take photos of products anywhere and find similar items at the department store. And customers, frustrated with long checkout lines, can check out at Walmart and other stores with a salesperson right on the spot.

Shoppers are also facing new free shipping options. Target leapt in front of Walmart and Amazon to offer two-day free shipping for the holidays without any minimum purchases. Online leader Amazon followed, dropping its $25 minimum. Walmart is still sticking with its $35 threshold.

Still, Black Friday isn't what it used to be. It has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score door busters into a whole month of deals. Many major stores, including Walmart, Best Buy and Macy's, start their blockbuster deals on Thanksgiving evening, which has consequently thinned out the crowds.

Black Friday is nonetheless expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, a technology company. And analysts say Black Friday sales should be even bigger than a year ago. They are expected to hit $23 billion on Friday, up from $21 billion during the same year-ago period, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payment, including cash.

People line up to pay for their purchases as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People line up to pay for their purchases as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People stand in a long queue to pay for their purchases as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People stand in a long queue to pay for their purchases as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Ryan Cole-England moves televisions he is purchasing to a checkout line as he shops during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Ryan Cole-England moves televisions he is purchasing to a checkout line as he shops during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Nanch Cole-England moves televisions she is purchasing to a checkout line while shopping during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Nanch Cole-England moves televisions she is purchasing to a checkout line while shopping during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A man looks at televisions during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A man looks at televisions during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. Black Friday isn't what it used to be. It has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score door busters into a whole month of deals. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. Black Friday isn't what it used to be. It has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score door busters into a whole month of deals. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line or camp outside the shops from the night before to shop during the Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line or camp outside the shops from the night before to shop during the Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. With the jobless rate at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent and consumer confidence at an 18-year high, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. With the jobless rate at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent and consumer confidence at an 18-year high, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A Black Friday deals sign is seen at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A Black Friday deals sign is seen at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line to buy televisions as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line to buy televisions as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Eight-year-old twins Shalom Justin Kotha, left and Sammy Jayson Kotha, look at computers while they shop with their parents during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Eight-year-old twins Shalom Justin Kotha, left and Sammy Jayson Kotha, look at computers while they shop with their parents during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store, Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line in front of an adjacent pet store for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. Black Friday is nonetheless expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, a technology company. And analysts say Black Friday sales should be even bigger than a year ago.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line in front of an adjacent pet store for a Best Buy store to open for an early Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. Black Friday is nonetheless expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, a technology company. And analysts say Black Friday sales should be even bigger than a year ago.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Rose Ward, left, looks at an advertisement with her boyfriend Eric Gasser, right, and her father Nate Ward, center, while they wait in the line in the electronics department while shopping for Black Friday deals on Thursday, November 22, 2018, at Meijer in West Bend, Wis. (John Ehlke/West Bend Daily News via AP)
Rose Ward, left, looks at an advertisement with her boyfriend Eric Gasser, right, and her father Nate Ward, center, while they wait in the line in the electronics department while shopping for Black Friday deals on Thursday, November 22, 2018, at Meijer in West Bend, Wis. (John Ehlke/West Bend Daily News via AP)
People wait in line to buy televisions as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. Black Friday sales are expected to hit $23 billion on Friday, up from $21 billion during the same year-ago period, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payment, including cash. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
People wait in line to buy televisions as they shop during an early Black Friday sale at a Best Buy store on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 22, 2018, in Overland Park, Kan. Black Friday sales are expected to hit $23 billion on Friday, up from $21 billion during the same year-ago period, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks all forms of payment, including cash. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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