What Is a Door Crasher?

A door crasher is a low-priced item of limited quantity typically offered on special, early-opening hours to attract buyers into a retail store. Door crashers are a sales and marketing tactic to bring customers into the store in hopes that they buy other items as well.

During a door crasher 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 "crash down the doors") to purchase the item. Other names for door crasher include "doorbuster" and "door smasher."

Key Takeaways

  • A door crasher refers to a marketing tactic retail stores use to increase sales and bring more customers into a store.
  • During a door crasher sale, one or more items are offered at a discount price for a limited time.
  • The goal is to get customers into the store to buy specific items on sale and also to entice them to buy other normally priced items while they are there.

Understanding Door Crasher

Door crashers are often placed on sale during large shopping days, such as Black Friday and after Christmas. Retailers only offer limited quantities of the door crashers in hopes that more consumers will arrive than there are available door crashers. By doing so, the store hopes that once the consumer is already there, they will purchase a similar item with a higher price tag.

Door Crasher Strategy

A door crasher 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 or, alternatively, a similar item that has a higher price, and also compel them to buy other normally priced items while they are there.

The "limited time" strategy is meant to get customers to rush into a particular store in order to take advantage of these deals, but also to dissuade them from shopping at a competitor's store. Based on this strategy, a door crasher 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.

Door Crasher Practices

The most common holiday door crasher 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 days, stores tend to open far earlier than usual, such as midnight or even late on Thanksgiving evening, and feature door crashers to entice shoppers to take advantage of the additional shopping hours.

Door Crasher Techniques

Door crashers 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 door crasher sales may employ a small-print disclosure of "while supplies last."

When a very small number of deeply discounted door crasher items are 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 door crasher item is in stock.