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Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Thoughts

Black Friday Sale by Linnaea Mallette
So, my wife and I like to go out for Black Friday shopping every year. I thought I would share my experiences from this year. First off, deals were going on all week online. You didn't have to wait until Friday to buy and get a deal. For the longest time, stores have been trying to extend the shopping season to start earlier than the day after Thanksgiving. This was the first year that I noticed some traction/success. 

Massachusetts has some crazy blue laws so stores can't be open before midnight. Even though many stores nationwide were open Thursday afternoon, that wasn't the case in Massachusetts. Our dog is sick and my wife had to stay home with him, so I had to go out shopping on my own this year. It felt weird. With two people, one can start waiting on line while the other is still shopping. This tended to allow the checkout process to go more smoothly. It also allowed us to split up to get multiple high demand items.

Did weather play a factor with crowd sizes? This was one of the coldest ones we've had in a while. It isn't frequent that it is snowing while Black Friday shopping. I remember some icy rain in the past but not snow for some time.

Between weather, early week deals, and online shopping, my initial thoughts were where's the crowds? I went to Old Navy first to get a chance in their million dollar giveaway. I got their about 15-20 minutes before they opened and was one of the first 10 in line. While they don't have high budget items like TVs there, they've always been crowded in the past. Zero line at checkout.

Leaving Old Navy, I noticed the line at Toys R Us was lacking and thought about waiting there for their supposed 1 am opening. I decided against it and ran over to Carter's since the store was 50% off, with an added 20% off if you spent $40. Needed to get some pajamas. Not for a Christmas, but for the price. Had never noticed they open as early as they were in the past. Not sure if new for them. Unfortunately, they didn't have size, so I ran back to Toys R Us. Bought online later instead.

Back at Toys R Us, there was no line outside. Zero... They apparently opened the store before their announced 1 am opening. The place was relatively dead. I'm used to the place having a line of about a hundred or so by the time they opened. When it was time to check out, there was no line wrapped around a couple of aisles. Plenty of carts available to shop with, which had been a problem in the past.
After Toys R Us, I eyed a really long Best Buy line before it was over to Target. They too had a 1 am opening. No line outside but a considerable line inside for electronics. Found the few things I was looking for. Grabbed a bag of Oreos for a snack and did have to wait on line there, but that it moved really fast.

Off to the mall next since the Best Buy line was still crazy. It was time to upgrade the phone and many places had the Samsung Galaxy S5 for sale. Verizon offered it for free, Target was selling it for a penny. I went to where I saw it on sale for the most at $1. There is a mobile store in the mall and I've had success there in the past where the line was light.

The mall was dead. Yes, there were people there but I had zero problem finding parking, which has always been a big issue in the past. I parked in literally the first/end spot in the garage, with plenty of visible spots around. The Best Buy Mobile was also dead. There were four sales reps standing around chatting when I arrived and was immediately helped. No line / wait whatsoever. The second stop at the mall was Sears to grab a jacket to donate to Cradle to Crayons. As previously mentioned here, Saturday is picture day at Gillette Stadium and you need to donate a coat to the charity or pay cash. A short line to pay at Sears, but otherwise in and out of the mall pretty quickly.

All done with shopping by 3 am. Registering the phone took a little time as did the line at Sears but otherwise everything else went pretty smoothly.

The biggest observation was really, where's the people? Has online shopping really taken over the overnight shopping craze? Was weather a factor? Best Buy clearly had their crowd. The Walmart parking lot wasn't its typical overflowing though. Was the economy a factor? Budget-wise, we'll be spending less this year but that tended to bring more people out to get the deals.

Really curious to see where the sales numbers are this year. For me, it was great not having to deal with the crowds, but you really have to wonder if next year we'll only do online shopping, too, if that's where all the people were.


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