Full disclosure, I did not leave the house today to go shopping. In fact I’m still in my sweatpants and the day’s highlights included petting cats and convincing the wife to bring Chipotle home for lunch because the electricity was out. She on the other hand was up relatively bright and early and was on the retail scene by 8:30am, which is extremely late by our society’s standards for shopping the day after Thanksgiving. No worries, her mortal retail sins were soon absolved with the swipe of a credit card.
I am going to take a moment (the cats are sleeping) to share some of our observations on the Black Friday holiday.
Should we have ditched the family and went shopping at 6pm on Thanksgiving?
Yes, and no. No because it’s disappointing that consumers think they have to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. And retailers take the easy way out by saying [I’m paraphrasing] “Really, we’d love to be closed on Thanksgiving but it’s the shoppers who demand we are open. [points finger]”. The reality is stores are open because humans are intrinsically competitive; insatiable consumers demand the best deals and retailers need to capture consumers sooner than their competition does. Over the course of the next few years Black Friday will go away completely. Stores will “open” at 8pm the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, everyone will be done shopping by Thursday afternoon and we’ll all go back to eating turkey again around 4 o’clock, and spending time with the family afterwards…
…Although there is something to be said about the allure of shopping on Thanksgiving. By time 6pm rolled around I was ready to kick my family out, even the ones who live here…maybe family time is better in smaller serving sizes. As it turned out, by not storming out of the house once the leftovers we’re in the fridge, brass knuckles in hand, we did miss out on one sale item that we probably should have jumped on.
We should have shopped on Thursday: Toys R Us
There are certain stores that should be open on Thanksgiving, all day, one of which I did visit was the grocery store. We needed ground ginger for the pumpkin pies and we also like to get a copy of the newspaper with all the ads. The Thanksgiving ads are part of our annual shopping ritual. While the turkey is roasting we go through the ads seeing what, if anything, catches our eye. Frankly nothing really caught my eye, but a little train table at Toys R Us quickly made it on our youngest’s Christmas list. Turns out by time the wife went shopping this morning they were all gone everywhere. 50% off assured that would be the case in hind sight. Which is a shame because he really liked it, we liked it, and quite frankly the money part didn’t matter. $80 seems very reasonable, and actually at $40 I get a little leery of the quality and fairness of its manufacture, but it’s a moot point, there are none to be found. Hopefully mid-holiday season will find more of them in store.
Note to Toys R Us, there is an inconsistency in the online item and the marketing ad. We prefer the ad item, as does a certain 3-year-old. I suspect the online item is the real one which is a shame. From a retailer perspective it’s a minor mix up, and surely consumers will devour 50% off items regardless, but for this consumer it’s a disappointment.
Best Black Friday in-store shopping experience: The Home Depot
The wife reported that The Home Depot won hands down for in-store shopping experience. They had plenty of staff to handle all the guests; yes it was crowded. And advertised sale items were easy to find, with plenty of inventory. Maybe I should have put more items from Home Depot on my Christmas list.
Best Thanksgiving Ad: JC Penny
You may be surprised, but we’re actually fans of struggling JC Penny. The wife says their ad was the only one to prompt her to add a store to her shopping itinerary. She was able to pick up a few items on sale, though a few sale items weren’t in stock or the ad proved somewhat confusing (specifically a sale on children’s jeans).
Best overall Black Friday shopping experience: Amazon.com
I let my fingers do the shopping this Black Friday. Frankly I could have shopped there on Thursday had I not been taking a post turkey nap. For about 15 minutes of my time I did the bulk of my remaining Christmas shopping. I didn’t have to shave, shower, fight traffic or over analyze anything. Just type what I wanted and magically the elves at Amazon.com find it, I throw it in my “cart” and it all shows up on Tuesday next week. I couldn’t care less about sales or door busters. I just went Christmas shopping in my pajamas essentially, at 11am with a cat on my lap. How can opening at 5pm on Thanksgiving beat that?
Also one positive of Black Friday losing its luster: the stores are more easily accessed as the day progresses I suspect. Hell, maybe I should clean up and get out there tonight. A little retail therapy might be nice.
I’ll leave you with this great article from the Wall Street Journal, here, about 10 things stores don’t want you to know, many of which are common sense. By the way, stores that should be open on Thanksgiving: gas stations, grocery stores and Walmart.
What were your favorite Black Friday stores to shop at?
Did you go out on Thanksgiving shopping?
I’d love to hear your stories and perspective.