The Black Friday sale has been extended, and you know what that means: Many of the same people you saw at the ballpark last season are looking around with you for deals and steals at the official home of baseball shopping. From now until 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday, you can save 30 percent on any order above $100; 25 percent on any order between $50 and $99.99; and 20 percent on any order up to $49.99.
The MLB.com Shop Virtual Catalog launched this week, and that is always a convenient way to see it all.
If you are a Major League Baseball fan -- and you are -- then the MLB.com Shop should be your default home for gift ideas. We again promise no long lines, no doorbuster stampedes or fighting, no parking lot stalking. Just savings and satisfaction.
The people who have brought you Roy Halladay, Matt Holliday and once upon a time even Bug Holliday now bring you Holiday 2012. Take this year's catalog for a spin. You can easily zoom from one category to the next. Mouse over an item, like the Slugger Pullover Hood by '47 Brand on page 9. It's a quick Buy Now process.
By all accounts, it should be a more brisk year for online shopping than the last one. According to Fortune magazine, a survey by consulting firm Accenture found that 52 percent of U.S. consumers will increase their spending this year by $250 or more, with consumers on the whole spending an average of $582. Shop.org forecasts e-commerce sales for all of November and December growing 12 percent.
Maybe the most important distinction in this entire 2012 holiday shopping season will be not the lines of merchandise, but -- surprise! -- the platforms we use to find them. Any baseball fan can tell you how mobile has transformed the national pastime, and shopping will be right there in line.
Sales from mobile devices will play a bigger role than ever this holiday season, rising 110 percent to account for 21 percent of all online sales, Adobe predicts. Two-thirds of those mobile sales will come through tablets, and the other third through smartphones. The average fan with the MLB.com At Bat 12 app can simply touch "More" on the bottom right and then tap MLB.com Shop.
So now the question is, how do I make the best use of this special tier sale at the MLB.com Shop? Relax, the MLB.com Gift Guru is here with you through New Year's. We will advise you on key upcoming dates, and as usual we will suggest items that not only are new and cool, but ones that are hot right now among other MLB.com shoppers. Here's a start:
A&E Home Video Giants 2012 World Series Videos: If history is an indicator, this will be either the most popular MLB.com Shop item of this holiday season or right around the top. It is treasured every year by fans of the champion, and it's the Giants' turn again. MLB.com exclusive release dates are Nov. 20 for the single-disc versions and Dec. 4 for the Collector's Edition eight-disc sets.
Houston's new look: This category of gifts also figures to dominate MLB.com Shop action the next month and a half, as Astros fans help other Astros fans prepare for their first season in the American League next spring.
Baseball Bat Bottle Opener: 'Tis the season to be jolly, and you might as well open your festive holiday beverages with an opener made from a real, game-used bat. This is a can't-miss item from Tokens & Icons that is on back-order for two to four weeks, so strike quickly with this one.
Baseball Base and Retro Bobbleheads: You might be tempted to order one of each -- one as a gift and one for yourself. The 1972 Braves Retro Bobblehead is the Gift Guru's personal favorite, only because it looks exactly like Dale Murphy -- four years before he got to the big leagues.
Women's Pullover Hoody: You can't go wrong with this Nike item. It retails for $64.99, so you can take 25 percent off during this sale. It is 80 percent cotton and 20 percent polyester, with ribbed cuff and waistband, a front pouch pocket and drawstring hood, and satin twill and a zig-zag embroidered team logo on the front.
Seasonal KO Therma-FIT Hooded Sweatshirt: Gray is in, as you can see in this great Nike line. It is normally $74.99, so knock 25 percent off that order. Or add another item to get the whole order price above $100, and the total savings is 30 percent.
iPhone 5 Cases: Great stocking stuffer, and you get to take 20 percent off the price.
Knits for the family: Reversibles, beanies, breakaway cuffs, sherpa and more. From knit caps for your baby to a baby blue Royals warmer. Cold weather means these are back in.
Cooperstown Dri-FIT Tempo Track Jacket: This Nike jacket is a popular item and features two-color contrast tape down each sleeve, with left-chest pocket and front zip pockets. Knock 20 bucks off the regular $79.99 price.
Adidas Newborn Gift Set: Some fans say they are born to follow their favorite teams. Then there are those newborns who prove it, because Mom, Dad, family or friend had the foresight to swaddle them in a six-piece set with their future club's colors. We're talking two newborn bodysuits, booties and bibs.
Oakley sunglasses: Just imagine you are out in the stands on a hot summer day, watching your team contending for a title and not having to squint because you have glare reduction, UV protection, anti-smudge lenses and they are impact-resistant in case you take one in the face during batting practice.
Phiten Authentic Collection: You know you want this. Every year you get a little closer to putting that same necklace around your neck that your favorite players wear on the field. Bracelet, necklace, power sleeve, titanium sock . . . the time has come to go for the aqua-titanium permeated accoutrement.
When in doubt, online gift certificates and MLB.com Gift Cards are safe bets for any fan.