Long-time readers of my blog will remember some of my previous Black Friday reviews (clicking here will take you back to 2006 – I can’t seem to find the one from last year). This year I ventured only to a few stores on Black Friday, but I did make some observations that I’d like to share…
First, while the stores were filled with shoppers there was still room to move around (except Wal-Mart – more on that later). In previous years I remember going to some stores and being jammed into the shopping areas literally standing shoulder to shoulder with other shoppers. With that memory in mind, I was somewhat relieved that I had room to move around the stores and do some shopping without having to worry about bumping into people or tripping over product.
Second, the roads were less congested for the entire extended weekend starting on Wednesday. I drove everyday from Wednesday through today and I was never caught in anything other than normal traffic. That’s not bad!
Third, retailers did put out some significant deals. A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was gearing up for Black Friday and using a certain website to find out what the big deals would be for the day. That website combined with the various flyers which came in the Thanksgiving Day newspaper showed a retail industry that wanted to attract buyers into their stores this year. The big item this year seemed to be bargain basement prices on high definition LCD and plasma screen televisions. In terms of comparison to previous years…well some four years ago I had a comment or two about the lack of deals at retailers.
Fourth, Circuit City employees tried to overcompensate for the company’s current financial position – to their detriment. I went into Circuit City yesterday and I was amazed at how bad of a shopping experience I had at the store. In almost every aisle that I walked down, an associate asked me if I needed any help. The first two times that someone asks you this, it’s very respectable. The second two times, it becomes a bother. By the fifth and sixth time a different employee asks you if you need any help you wonder what’s going on and why these people won’t let you shop. Frankly, I felt like I was being tracked by one of the employees as though I was going to steal something – it makes for a very unpleasant shopping experience. I was going to buy something at Circuit City, but thanks to the overzealous sales staff I got out of there as quickly as possible.
On top of that, Circuit City had rows and rows of videos games out in buckets (buckets are the traditional sign of “sale on these items”). As I was browsing through the buckets some kid who works at hte store was trailing me and putting the items back as soon as I picked them up (at one point taking the items out of my hands). Then I asked him if any of these games were on sale. He said they were not, but were selling for regular retail prices between $50 and $60. Yeah…that will get people to purchase the product. Dummies…
Finally, the level of common courtesy towards fellow shoppers was somewhat high in all stores except for Wal-Mart (on Black Friday – Wal-Mart was okay on Saturday). I have a million pet peeves about bad shoppers and they were all on display at Wal-Mart on Friday: people standing at the end of the aisles talking to a friend and blocking passage out of the aisle, children running wild through the store with no parental supervision, shoppers putting their cart on one side of the aisle and standing in the other side of the aisle creating a roadblock, and consumers stopping short in the flow of traffic and turning around thus creating the “trout jumping upstream” effect. It was enough for me to get the hell out of Wal-Mart almost as soon as I got in there. But hey – at least I didn’t get trampled by a mad mob (more about that coming up in a future post).
All in all, it was a decent Black Friday and most of the retailers stepped up to the plate in an attempt to get their balance sheets in the black as well as shoppers through their doors. If you have any crazy Black Friday stories, I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.