It's been a busy, crowded Black Friday at a Best Buy in Los Angeles.
With unemployment high and the economy still weak, consumers are hungrier than ever for deals.
As of mid-day the National Retail Federation is saying that prices are lower than ever on this Black Friday and they're drawing huge crowds. We're seeing the trends the NRF points out playing out right here in this store- laptops, netbooks and TVs are huge sellers and shoppers keep on pouring in.
A thousand people were waiting in line when this store's doors opened at 4:40AM. Many of the people towards the front of the line had been waiting for nearly two days, missing Thanksgiving dinner for a chance go snag the "Doorbuster Specials" knowing that there might only be a few of the lowest-priced laptops or TVs available.
Best Buy pulled out all the stops to keep the retail process safe and fast moving. Concern about safety was a priority, especially on the heels of the death at a WalMart on Black Friday last year. Last weekend Best Buys across the country rehearsed for the big morning. They put out barricades for the line, which started forming early Wednesday morning, and the manager Edward Moriarty made frequent trips out, to shake a lot of hands and pour coffee early Friday morning, explaining that if customers are happy and reassured that the store wouldn't run out of products, the less likely they are to run and push through the doors.
A few hours before opening Best Buy employees handed out scarves and gift cards to the first 50 people in line—they won't know how much they're worth until they're at the register.
About an hour before opening employees passed out vouchers for the various Door Buster deals to make sure that the folks who waited the longest would get first crack at that $179 netbook or $999.99 50-inch flat screen. Everything proceeded incredibly orderly, especially considering that thousands of people came into the store within hours of it opening.
Moriarty tells us that traffic is higher this year than last year but he's not worried about running out of inventory. They may have blown through those Door Busters within an hour or so, but he says they have more products on hand than in years past. He wasn't surprised that the laptops and TVs were the hottest sellers but he said he's surprised digital cameras are selling so fast. I noticed a ton of blenders at the checkout register, customers telling me they'd come in for a deal on a TV or monitor and the blender was an impulse purchase, usually for a gift. I wonder if it's a positive sign that shoppers are making impulse purchases this Black Friday.
We'll see if it's just a feeding frenzy or if it holds up over the holiday season.
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