Home > Consumer Behavior & Trends, Holiday Shopping, Retail > BIG on the Street: Black Friday, Part I

BIG on the Street: Black Friday, Part I

The highlight of my Black Friday? The 30 second checkout at Target…but more on that in a bit.

Black Friday shopping is tradition for my best friend, her mother, and me. We’ve woken up before the crack of dawn for nearly twenty years since before we could drive, but this was the first year we headed out on Thanksgiving night. The 9pm specials at Toys R Us were just too good for my friend (a mother of two) to pass up.

Black Friday Scene

Our 9pm arrival at Toys R Us, camera crews waiting. (click to enlarge)

In order to keep the image of the perfect Thanksgiving intact for her young children, we started out after they were tucked in for bed. We arrived at Toys R Us (TRU) shortly before they opened, as three local TV crews readied themselves to record the madness. Our destination TRU is located in a shopping center with five other big box stores, still closed for the night. The line of shoppers stretched across the entire length of the shopping center, and we were at the very end of that line.

Toys R Us Line

We waited for an hour outside in this line. (click to enlarge)

It was nearly 10pm before we were admitted to the store. With no toys on my shopping list this year, it was my job to help my friend hunt down her deals (which seemed to be scattered randomly throughout the store). I left my friend to jump in line while she waited for a sales associate (and a ladder) to pull down the last of a doorbuster toy still in its shipping box WAY at the top of the shelving. Yes, the reasoning escaped me as to why said toy was in stock, yet not on the shelves…I was further confused when the store manager decided to nix the ladder idea and tell my friend she was out of luck. Once the manager was out of view, my friend scaled the shelving…while this action was a bit extreme – and dangerous – better customer service would have made this a non-issue.

Target Line

The line for the midnight opening at Target. (click to enlarge)

After standing in line for more than an hour, we finally made it out of TRU. As someone not buying for children, this wasn’t the best start to my Black Friday. But things picked up as we walked over to Target, located next door to the shopping center. It took us about 10 minutes of walking before we reached the end of the line at 11:15pm, which stretched across the store and down the end of the parking lot. A mutual friend met us here, and we waited for midnight to strike and Target to open.

Entrepreneurial spirit? Pizza for sale in the Target line. (click to enlarge)

For the obvious reason, we were not the first group of shoppers in our Target store. On my list were some cheap DVDs and a doorbuster gift; my expectations for finding this doorbuster were not high, knowing how far back in line we were.  As we shuffled closer to the store, the excitement in the crowd grew. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, quite a contrast from the fist fights, brawls, and pepper spray incidents I later read about. As the first-in-lines came out with their deals, they waived to a cheering crowd. It was great.

Target Instore

30 second wait in the Target line. (click to enlarge)

Surprisingly, the wait was quick, and we made in into the store at about 12:15am, splitting up and agreeing to meet at the checkout line. I found my DVDs and my gift – still in stock – and headed to the checkout at the same time as my friend. The “line” was surprisingly short; in past years, lines have woven throughout the store, so it’s likely that extended hours spread the volume of shoppers out a bit. No joke, we were out of the store at 12:25am. Quickest. Target. Trip. Ever.

As we headed over to the mall, we received a call from our mutual friend…we had left her in our dust back at Target. Not a seasoned Black Friday shopper, she told us that she was still looking around in the store and was wondering where we were. She obviously wasn’t living by our Black Friday motto: Grab, Buy, Exchange Later.

Black Friday adventures continue on Tuesday, so stay tuned. And for more Black Friday insights, collected over the weekend by BIG, head over to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Headquarters.

©2011, Prosper®

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