Black Friday is known throughout the US as the commencement of the holiday season, the best day to shop for holiday presents and the biggest spending day in America. Last year, a new record was set when consumers spent a total of over $59 billion over the course of one weekend (this includes both online and in-store shopping). A new record in online attendance was set at $89 million, but in-store shopping still reigned supreme with 247 million Americans heading to brick-and-mortar holiday destinations, with the average American spending over $400 over the course of one weekend on Black Friday sale items in 2012! Let’s take a closer look at how some of last year’s most popular retailers fared.
The biggest names
In 2012, Walmart opened its doors at 8 pm Thanksgiving evening for Grey Thursday and hosted three different sales events. At 8 pm, shoppers could take part in Walmart’s family sales event, with specials for the kids with $149 Xbox 360, $199 PS3s as well as blu-rays and DVDs at a fraction of the retail price. From 10pm to 11pm, gadget-crazy shoppers could look forward to slashed prices on laptops, televisions and apple products, such as the iPad 2 at $399 plus a $75 gift card with purchase, or an Emerson 32” HDTV at $148. 5 am began the full Black Friday sales event, with more specials on clothing and jewelry for everyone.
Target, Walmart’s main competitor and trendy cousin, also opened their doors for a Grey Thursday event, beginning at 9 pm Thanksgiving evening. Target did not host a 3-part Black Friday sales event, but it did have more widespread options for shoppers looking for fun and affordable items for the home as well as jewelry and apparel. Target also offered a few impressive electronics deals, including the iPhone 4 for Virgin Mobile with no contract at $399 plus a $100 gift card with purchase, as well as a Gateway 15.6” screen laptop at $349.
Legions of shoppers turned up to this favorite Black Friday destination in search of deals on media and electronics, including plenty of those increasingly common parking-lot campers. So many people turned up that employees handed out claims tickets for the most popular doorbusters hours before doors actually opened. Among the standout deals: a Toshiba 40” 1080p LCD HDTV for $179.99, $200 a selection of three different HP laptops and $200 off the Lenovo 23” touchs creen all-in-one computer. Deals were hit-or-miss, but they drew large crowds just the same.
Black Friday chaos
Unfortunately, Black Friday is also synonymous with frenzied foot traffic and aggressive customers. Often, shoppers have zero qualms with arguing and even fighting physically with fellow customers over discounted products. Last year, two people were shot in a Walmart parking lot in Tallahassee over a parking space, police pepper sprayed fighting shoppers at a JCPenney in Kentwood, Michigan, fights erupted at another Walmart in Georgia over smartphones and a 2-year-old boy was lost in the shopping chaos at a Walmart in Springfield, Mass. Black Friday may be a thrilling shopping experience that can save the average customer hundreds of dollars in holiday presents, but it also creates a chaotic setting that can quickly turn ugly.
This year customers should continue to consider Black Friday a multi-day event, with sales set to begin before Black Friday itself and extend through the weekend into Cyber Monday. Special sales leading up to Black Friday are already beginning, giving diehard shoppers the opportunity to get an extra early start. Eager holiday shoppers should prepare themselves for the whirlwind of Black Friday excitement – just remember to play nice.
Shopping photo courtesy of Shutterstock.