Friday, November 28, 2014

Diary of a Black Friday Shopper (from a Black Friday in the past)

KMart Sales Price Tag Misprint
If it seems too good to be true...


Each year, retailers hope to entice people to part with their money in ever more seductive ways: free upgrades, bundles, instant rebates, discounts.

This year as my best friend and I plotted our Black Friday recession strategy, there was one thing we had not planned on—bigger crowds.

It wasn’t because they did such a great job on marketing this year—while I heard that many large retailers were opening their doors at midnight, Arundel Mills opening seemed hushed in comparison.  I knew they would be open this year because they were open last year.

At 11:30 pm, the parking lot is a mass of metallic and light.  I find a spot right in front of a store we won’t actually be going to that while not ideal at 11:37 in the cold rain, will be prime once we are gone.

“It’s hard to believe this is a recession."

Initially, I agree.

“Maybe,” I reconsider, “all these people are here really trying to save money.”

In years past, Black Friday has been about camaraderie and competitive shopping.  This year, for us and many of the novice, veteran and window shoppers joining us, this year it is truly about getting a deal.

Retailers like Echo Unlimited recognize it too.

Gone is the attitude of Black Friday being some sort of favor for shoppers. Most of the insulting 10-15% off sales have been replaced with 30-70% off deals.  While many stores wait until the scheduled 12 o’clock mall opening, many capitalize on capitalism and open when the customers arrive—early.

There is a reciprocal shift; an appreciation of commerce seems to have—at least for now—toppled the old way of doing business.

Burlington Coat Factory has multiple cash registers open and we notice at least two managers at the front of the cashiers waiting to answer customer and cashier questions; if their goal is transactional ease—it is achieved and appreciated.

While most of the sale items I want at Toys R US are gone (though available all day online), it’s 3 AM, and I am greeted by eager staff, short lines, and quick service.

Likewise, it takes longer to get to Marley Station’s JC Penny’s than it does to wait in line.  As the clock nears 4 AM, they are prepared, chipper, well-stocked and well-attended.

Honestly, Black Friday for me starts 12 hours earlier, at Kmart.  Because I’m only going to pick up a few items for the house, I don’t mind sliding in near 10 AM for the sale that started at 7.  It took me years to trust holiday sales, as a closet conspiracy theorist, I always worry that the price I pay today is more than the price I would have paid yesterday. 

 So, when my daughter and I see the  slip advertising irons regularly priced $5.99 on sale today for $9.99—a part of me says, ‘I told you so’ to the part of me that didn’t want to know.

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