What Is a Doorbuster?

A doorbuster is a marketing and sales strategy retailers use to get a high volume of customers into their stores during their opening hours. During a doorbuster sale, a particular item or a selection of items is offered at a special discount price for a limited period to get customers in the door or "bust open the doors" to get them. Doorbusters tend to be used during special shopping event days that are related holidays. Some synonyms for doorbuster include "doorcrasher" or "doorsmasher."

The purpose of a doorbuster is to promote sales of special items and attract traffic into a store in the hopes they'll make additional purposes.

Understanding Doorbuster

A doorbuster is a strategy that serves a dual purpose. Primarily, doorbusters are all about revenue-generation. Some companies have doorbuster events a few times each year to drive revenue and to clear out seasonal inventory. The goal is to get customers into the store to buy specific items on sale and also to get them to come in and look around at what other items the store has to offer.

The idea behind the "limited time" strategy is to get customers to rush into a particular store in order to take advantage of these deals, but also to dissuade them from going into a competitor's store. Based on the strategy, a doorbuster has the same goal as the "loss leader strategy," which seeks to attract customers by offering an item at a deeply discounted price, often at a loss.

Key Takeaways

  • A doorbuster is a marketing and sales strategy retailers use to get a high volume of customers into their stores.
  • During a doorbuster, a particular item or a selection of items is offered at a special discount price for a limited time.
  • Doorbusters may be limited by the number of items available or by the amount of time they are priced at a certain discount level before they revert to their normal price.

One of the biggest seasons for doorbuster events is the holiday shopping season, which runs from before Black Friday through Christmas. Generating strong revenue during this key time period is important to close out the year, and doorbusters are effective tools for achieving revenue goals.

Many retailers don't enjoy doorbuster events because of the stress and strain such events put on employees. However, companies are compelled to participate to keep up with competitors and attract bargain-hungry customers into their establishment.

Special Considerations

The most common holiday doorbuster deals are employed around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some examples include "Black Friday"—the day after Thanksgiving in the United States—which kicks off the holiday shopping season, and Boxing Day, the first weekday after Christmas, which is a traditional shopping day in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Commonwealth countries.

During these shopping event days, stores tend to open far earlier than usual, such as midnight or even late on Thanksgiving evening, and feature doorbusters to entice shoppers to take advantage of the additional shopping hours.

Examples of Doorbuster

Doorbusters may be limited by the number of items available or by the amount of time they are priced at a certain discount level before they revert to their normal price. Such doorbuster sales may employ a small-print disclosure of "while supplies last."

When a very small number of deeply discounted doorbuster items is offered—and they invariably sell out fast—offering a similar but more expensive item at full price may constitute a "bait and switch." Such a practice is considered an unfair sales and promotion practice and is illegal in many countries. Many retailers now disclose exactly how many of a particular doorbuster item is in stock.