BF Notes from Middle USA. What is, Was and Will Be.....

Praise or Complain about your prior Black Friday Experiences

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BF Notes from Middle USA. What is, Was and Will Be.....

Postby midmofan » Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:45 pm

Some Rants, Raves and thoughts about BF this year, the past and future.

The early openings ticked off a lot of people around here but didn't stop pretty good crowds from going. It was not the massive lines, however, as in prior years for the midnight or early am openings. Big crowds but more spread out. The staggering of deals helped some I am sure but also that there was not ONE thing that I saw people going nuts over this year. Good deals around but nothing so amazing in-stores that you heard people talking about it and getting worked up like in previous years. Lots more people (including myself) doing it all on line. I myself passed on the Thursday evening openings but have family members that went so talked with them. Also chatted with clerks and a manager or two that I know.


Walmart Wally world crowds were orderly here. Not the big mass as it past years but good numbers. No fights. Police were on duty and highly visible so that helped im sure. The clerks I talked to said were no problems really but they had NOT been trained on how to ring up the guarantee cards properly so they know there were a lot of mistakes. I stopped by Friday morning and it did not look as bad as in past years. Still some of the clothing deals available as were a few electronic items that were not part of the 1-hour deal.

Target and Kohls. Not as big of lines outside as in past years but long checkout times, over 2 hours to pay for things at both locations. Target I-pad sold out pretty quick. Not many available it seems (one person said clerk told them"only 3" but have not verified that). Clerks said was pretty thin after midnight.

Best Buy. Wow, almost nobody lined up outside as of early Thursday afternoon! Was a TV crew there at one point and they looked funny with nothing to film. Talking with store types, they had lots and lots of people buying things on-line from our zip code. Indeed, I got several things from the elite sale on Monday myself and had no need to go into the actual store. Our BB has the ticket line thing down pretty well here so even when there are crowds, it is orderly.

Menards and Lowes. The biggest winners of the Thanksgiving night openings around here were the places that waited until Friday morning. Last year both Menards and Lowes in our town had horrible BFs. The managers were distraught about it. Some doobusters went unsold and clerks were walking the aisles asking people if they were interested in this or that and telling them "check this deal out" over there and handing our flyers on things that were supposed to be big doorbuster items. This year both places said it was their best BF sales ever. Big lines when opened up and throughout day. No doubt many people hit the early openings, got a few hours of sleep, then went to the Friday morning deals. Also I'm sure those that refused to go out Thursday assumed the deals there were used up so headed to the Friday openers instead. I would expect to see this next year as well. I don't think these two stores will shift to Thursday night.

Funny Menards story. I hit our Menards about 11am. several relatively small advertised items I was interested in (and also found some nice unadvertised deals with their rebates) If you have ever been in a Menards you know that right as you go in there is a customer service/return desk on the left. On BF they turn this into an additional check-out counter. As I walked in the line to check out was all the way back to the back of the store. There was a guy there handing out the BF ad. I talked to him a bit, he said it has been like that all day. A woman near us said she had been in this checkout line over two hours.

Well, there was no way I was going to wait in line that long for some small ticket items, but I thought I would wander through the store and see what was left. Turns out they had a good stock of everything and saw some other deals I liked so thought I would just come back later. As I approached the main check out area (other side of the store from the entrance) where they have a about 15 (?) or so of checkout lanes, I see that there is a guy with a big sign saying "checkout starts here." He is directing people to registers as they open up near him. The line of people waiting behind his sign is maybe only a third of the way back in the store. Halfway down the checkout lanes there is another guy with the same sign and he has about 10 people behind him. At the far end there is a guy with a sign and nobody behind him. I ask, can I get in line to check out here? he says yup line starts behind you. So I grab the items i want and go back to his line.

Turns out each guy is keeping an eye open for lanes that open up in his area and directs the people to them. When I get back, I'm still first in the far-guy's "line." Takes about 1 min before a lane opens up and he sends me. So, in total, after I have my items, it takes me about 5 min to pay and be out the door.

I head back to the entrance and tell the employee standing there that he needs to tell people to move over to the main checkout area as there is almost no waiting. He just stares at me. I go back and sort of shout that people should go over to the other area lines a lot shorter. Nobody moves. LOL ah well, I tried.

Ace Hardware and Local Stores This was my first Friday morning stop --althogh was not there when they opened --as they had a patio heater I wanted to get. Our store here is not that large but was pleased to see they had had a big stock of their doorbusters. Checkout girl said they had been very busy and sold a lot of the heaters but were still some left, she looked exhausted. From talking with others and in the newspaper today, it looks like the smaller and local stores all did well. I think the 3am openings hurt the local stores as people were worn out by the time they were done. but the Thanksgiving openings/Friday morning openings helped them as people either passed up the Thursday stores or got their second-wind by the time the local Friday stores opened. Our downtown was packed for the "Buy Local Saturday" promotion -- nice to see that.

Dillards Did not get to the mall until the afternoon. Looked like a tornado had gone through parts of the place. Still a lot of men's clothes deals avaiable. Salesgirl I know told me by early afternoon had done more business than all of last BF. She said that it had been a zoo from when they opened to about 1pm when they got a breather. Another boost for a store that waited until Friday am to open.

Sears. Did all of my sears shopping on-line. Everything that I was interested in was the same price on line so why bother. Free shipping as well. Did walk through and it looked like the Electronics area had been hit pretty hard

Victoria's Secret Had a good sale on an item on-line but was not spending enough to get free shipping so went to the store in the mall to see if they had it there. They did not have that item but said they could order it for me with free shipping! +++++ to them!

So, what do I think will happen next year? I think that the end of BF as we all knew it has pretty much happened (as, I must say, I predicted a couple months ago...). The sales will be even more spread out, the online buying will be easier, and the doorbusters will not be the amazing can't miss deals they once were. Doorbuster used to be limited loss-leader type items that were to get you into the store so you spent $$ on higher margin items as well. That is not the case anymore for the most part. We got too good at cherry-picking the good items and either going to the next store with the internet chart in-hand or having split up purchases with friends so we all got the super deals and passed on the rest. This is even easier to do with the day and times spread out so it does not make sense for the stores to offer items that they lose money on when its not helping the bottom line. Face it, WE helped cause the death of Black Friday

In other words, if EVERYTHING is a "doorbuster" than nothing is a "doorbuster." And if everybody gets one of an item no matter how many people show up (walmart), that's not really a doorbuster, its just a price. Best Buy is apparently having items especially manufactured for BF (just like the "outlet" mall stores have items especially made for the outlet stores) and even on the good deals this year, I saw very few items that made my head spin. In the past I got TVs, cameras and laptops that I know the store lost or made no money on (yup you can find that info if you look hard enough) but nothing seemed that way this year. And what was there that was a worthwile purchase was often available online with free shipping and sometimes no sales tax!

So sites like this will still be important to find the best deals, but its not going to be the same. I doubt I will ever have to again set my alarm for the middle of the night, watch my wife shake her head and roll over, then go to wait in a freezing parking lot with a thermos of hot chocolate, arm full of ads and meeting new people.

Something lost and something gained....

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