Black Friday or Dead Friday?

Saturday, November 28, 2009
Posted in category Economics, Uncategorized

Was Black Friday actually Dead Friday? By the looks of it, retail executives may go into shock during this upcoming holiday season. I think my experience in shopping this Friday may be similar to what a whole lot of folks witnessed yesterday.

This year I did something I haven’t done very often – I joined the throngs of people in line at 4am to try and swipe up a super deal on something I really needed to buy. I have been squeezing every last bit of life from my washer and dryer for a couple of years now, that is, until the dryer decided it had its own mind in regards to temperature, and the washer started destroying my clothes. So I waited months for Black Friday, betting on those annual appliance super deals. And the exact set I had my eyes on since last year appeared as a Black Friday Doorbuster SuperDeal at Sears. The pair sells for about $1,900, with past sale prices never getting better than about $1,500. The Doorbuster price was $850 – no strings attached. Now that’s a savings worth the hassle.

I arrived at 3:45 am, and all entrances seemed to have a line of 50+ people. I thought, “Wow, is this what it’s like?” The bulk of the crowd ended up in the appliance and electronic sections, looking to save $$$ on big-cost items, just as I suspected. What I discovered was that the huge mass of shoppers were only there for the early-bird super-duper deals. By 5:15, they had processed all of our purchases, the store emptied, and the whole place was eerily quiet. There was no one around, at all. I talked to a small group of salespeople who were standing around with nothing to do, and they told me the scene was “highly unusual.” They seemed to be very perplexed.

The rest of the day that mall, which is close to me, was about as busy as a normal weeknight outside of the holidays. I noticed the only places with packed parking lots were the discount-cheap retailers – Target, Walmart, Meijers, etc. Everything else was barely business as usual. In years past, I would refuse to leave the house on Black Friday to avoid the crush. Today, which is usually another heavy shopping day, that mall parking lot was consistently 10% filled.

My view of this holiday shopping season – based on a host of personal experiences, observations, and following the news – is that people are buckling down and holding on to their money, partially because they have no choice due to home foreclosure, job loss, and the credit crackdown. Shoppers are going to gravitate to items of necessity, and they will be drawn to stuff they want (but admit don’t need) only when the incentives are huge. Look for retailers to get desperate this holiday season and possibly offer up some mega-discounts.


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5 Responses to Black Friday or Dead Friday?

  1. cousinlucky says:

    November 28th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    The people that had money to spend on 11-27-09 were the fortunate ones! There are indeed many, many, people behind in their payments of their bills! When I was a young lad my favorite uncle would take me on shopping sprees with him the last two weeks in January. When he said ” They are going to be giving stuff away “!!

    It was during this time that stores really got rid of stuff that they did not want to be storing until next Christmas.

    The liquid soap that I use to wash dishes went from $3.19 a bottle to $3.79 a bottle in just one week. As the American economy goes from bad to worse prices are going to rise and some products are bound to disappear forever.

    It is going to be food and shelter and nothing else for a lot of people in 2010!!

  2. Michael says:

    November 28th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I agree Karen. Most of what was purchased according to my “scouts” was what the industry calls “loss leaders”. Nothing of significant margin was purchased. There was a lot of traffic, but everybody had their sights set for the highly discounted stuff.

    What’s more, Christmas 2010 sales will surely be just as dismal.

  3. Clark says:

    November 29th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    What Michael says is what I saw on Thursday night at five p.m. I sat in an overly full parking lot watching. For eight minutes after the crowd was let in it was silent in the parking lot, then suddenly boom! boom! after boom! of car doors slamming shut, they got what they wanted and began heading out.

    I’ve never seen women actually run to get into a store other than because of rain, that was funny being as how it was a pretty nice night other than a slight cold wind and they were so dressed up.

  4. Shannon says:

    December 2nd, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Many of the people who went out and splurged, are going to deeply regret it come early 2010. They will be wishing they bought some canned goods instead of that video game console.

  5. Michael says:

    December 2nd, 2009 at 1:03 pm

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