The results are in. According to Shopper Trak, sales increased 6.6% on Black Friday. Consumers were inspired by record breaking discounts and store openings as early as 9 p.m. on Turkey Day. That was enough to get the average American to skip dessert, push back from the dinner table and hit the stores in search of savings.
For all the negative press about early openings eating into family time and sad-faced employees who had to show up early and therefore did not have much of a holiday, the early rush was a success. Employees did receive over-time and consumers welcomed the opportunity to take advantage of discounts to self-gift, fill stockings and maybe work off a little turkey and pumpkin pie. Apparently a win-win situation for all involved.
In the name of research I recruited family members and hit a local Wal-Mart at 10 p.m. Thursday. I have to give kudos to Wal-Mart. Yes there were a few incidents (the pepper spray lady in California trying to protect her focus on cheap games) but Wal-Mart did everything in its power to promote a safe, orderly Black Friday (if there is such a thing). Consumers rushed the doors and headed for the top promotions: Xbox, TVs, games, toys and apparel. While there was plenty of potential for being run-over, Wal-Mart had a plan this year unlike many retailers.
First, a map of promotions. A map and balloons indicated where to line up for specific category discounts and numbers were handed out for limited quantities. By the time 10.15 had rolled around you were out of luck. The early birds got the worm. While I could have received a “ticket” for the Emerson TV special at 10 p.m., I was told I would have to stand there for 2 hours. Check out was starting at midnight. I was told not to worry I could get a “hall pass” for the restroom with a 15 minute maximum. No thanks.