Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday Recap

How did Black Friday go at U.S. retail this year? I am hearing stories that point in quite different directions.

  • Store workers described foot traffic as “surprisingly quiet.” News reports mentioned generally quiet foot traffic in stores.
  • Shoppers went to several of their favorite stores and found impressive bargains, but didn’t necessarily spend much.
  • More stores, including office supply stores, opened in the early evening on Black Friday Eve.
  • Shoppers made an effort to avoid shopping for the entire day as a protest. They were protesting commercialization in general, extended store hours, a department store’s inclusion of captive marine mammals in a parade, or the street shooting in Ferguson. One mall closed completely for the day to avoid protestors.
  • Reports of a boom in gun sales, the biggest day ever by some counts, with firearms being seen as more useful after the decision not to indict the Ferguson shooter.
  • Walmart workers were on strike.
  • Shoppers who wanted to avoid the crowds made all their purchases online.
  • Shoppers said they had finished their shopping either before Black Friday started, or early in the day.
  • There was heavy highway and street traffic in shopping areas.
  • I saw a 100-car backup approaching an automobile dealer’s tent event.
  • The first big attempt at Black Friday in the United Kingdom was marred by pushing and shoving and other incidents of in-store violence.
  • Shoppers said lower gasoline prices might make them spend more freely.
  • Snow on the ground in wide areas might have reminded shoppers that Christmas is coming.

In my case, it was a busy day with little time for shopping. I spent perhaps 15 minutes in stores shopping, but didn’t buy anything. It is hard to say at this point what this year’s Black Friday indicates, but retailers counting on a single day of sales to put them in the black must be feeling a little let down this morning.