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."

Breaking Down 'Doorbuster'

A doorbuster is a strategy that serves a dual purpose. The goal of these special low price deals 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 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.

Doorbuster Practices

The most common holiday door buster 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.

Doorbuster Techniques

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 suppies last." When a very small number of deeply discounted doorbuster items is offered, and they invariable 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 are in stock.

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