Anticipation builds for Black Friday

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Anticipation builds for Black Friday

With Black Friday three weeks away, cost-conscious shoppers are looking to take advantage of the United States’ biggest shopping season.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is no longer a holiday just for U.S. consumers as Koreans will also be enjoying the day’s special deals through overseas direct purchasing sites and shipping agents that facilitate purchases from retail juggernauts such as Amazon.

Whenever a new major Black Friday sale is announced by U.S. retailers, the news goes viral on portal websites and the blogosphere. Online forums catering to bargain hunters are flooded with postings on tips about how to get the best deal on Nov. 28.

The most-discussed deal online yesterday was an advertisement from Sears for big discounts on home appliances manufactured by Samsung and LG Electronics.

On Black Friday, Sears will sell Samsung’s 55-inch full HD TV (Samsung 55” 1080p Smart LED HDTV) for $599.9 while the same product in Korea sells for 1.4 million to 1.6 million won ($1,288 to $1,472). The TV’s initial launch price in the U.S. was $1,199.99.

The 60-inch 3-D model will be on sale for $1,300, down from about $1,700. The 39-inch set will be $300, about $100 less than its current U.S. price.

American retailer Sam’s Club also announced that it would offers LG’s 60 inch TV for about half of its regular U.S. price, at $648.

The biggest shopping season in the United States typically starts with Halloween, followed by Black Friday on Nov. 28, Cyber Monday on Dec. 1 and the lead-up to Christmas.

According to shipping company Malltail, the amount of purchases by Koreans directly from foreign websites over the U.S. shopping period has gradually increased. In 2012, the number of transactions between Black Friday and Cyber Monday was 27,000 but the figure surged to more than 40,000 last year, a 48 percent increase. Malltail expects this year’s transactions to double last year’s.

The total amount spent on overseas shopping last year surpassed 1 trillion won for the first time. In the first half of this year, Koreans spent 753.8 billion won at overseas online malls, a 48.5 percent increase over the same period last year. Korea Customs Service estimated that this year’s total spending could surpass 2 trillion won.

Amid the growing popularity of direct purchasing from abroad, local retailers are seeking to keep their customers loyal by offering their own seasonal promotions.

Through Wednesday, Lotte Mart is giving a discount of up to 50 percent on 1,200 items.

E-commerce sites are also bracing for the season.

G-Market will kick off its “Super Black Sale” in mid-November, providing discounts on popular items from overseas direct purchasing sites. 11st will give up to 50 percent off on designer brands from Nov. 17 to 30.

Card companies have also announced promotions ahead of Black Friday.

Hyundai Card users can get $15 back on a purchase of more than $50 if they sign up for Ebates, an online shopping website, before Nov. 16. KB Card and NH Card are holding a cash back seasonal event in which users receives up to 50,000 won.

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