Black Friday Chat Recap

November 29, 2008 · 7 comments

Last night I joined Ginger of AttentionTargetShoppers.com in co-hosting a chat to discuss the highlights (and low-lights!) of Black Friday 2008. I want to thank everybody who took some time out of the evening to share their experiences and insights with us!
Obviously our audience was somewhat biased (this was an ONLINE chat, after all!) but the consensus seemed to be that shopping online would have been far preferable to the in-store Black Friday experience. The complaints weren’t about fellow shoppers, for the most part, but about how the retailers themselves were unprepared: pallets of items still shrink-wrapped and not priced, stores allowing people in before the stated opening time, some 24 hour Walmarts allowing people to load up their baskets in advance of the Black Friday pricing going live, coupons that were overly restrictive, and of course the perennial “not enough in-stock” complaint.
Some shoppers reported success in getting what they set out for, and chatters were most complimentary of the in-store experience at Target stores. But nearly everyone voiced that they could have gotten the same, or better, deals online and without getting up at 3am and fighting traffic and lines at checkout.
Knowing this myself as an avid online shopper, why was it that I dragged myself (and my two sisters-in-law) out of bed at 3am to brave the crowds? Listen up, merchants, because there’s a lesson to be learned from this: it’s all about the sensory experience, the tactile, the social interaction. People can shop online any day, any time, and get deals. If you “do” Black Friday online, it’s just… well… Friday. What makes Black Friday special is that we’re able to go out and interact with other real people. We can hear the Christmas music, see the holiday decorations, maybe run into an old friend. We WANT the sales clerk to smile at us and wish us a merry Christmas. There’s a comforting familiarity in the sound of the Salvation Army bell-ringer.
If stores want us to go out in person at 3am to get things we could’ve gotten online at a comparable price while still in our jammies, they have GOT to focus on making the in-store experience as pleasant as possible. Sam’s Club offered free (and from what I heard, delicious) breakfasts to its shoppers. Good start. How about sending employees out with free hot chocolate for the people waiting in line in the cold? Maybe they could also play games for small, token giveaways to keep people entertained and pumped up to shop?
EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE needs to smile. There should be greeters at the door, employees asking if you need help, and ALL MALLS SHOULD HAVE VALET PARKING if for no other day of the year, then on Black Friday.
The fellow shoppers aren’t what makes Black Friday frustrating — it’s the retailers lack of preparation and their failure to treat shoppers like they’re as invaluable as they really are.
/off soapbox

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

MplsVala November 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Great “rant.” Sorry I missed the chat.

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Ginger November 29, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Here was my take…
Walmart – thumbs down on every aspect in my location. Shoppers were allowed in early, mdse not set up, unwrapped, signed, tagged or in the system. UTTER CHAOS! When we did find employees, they were scatterbrained, didn’t know any answers and no one knew what to do.
Target – thumbs up. They nailed everything and were very courteous. Very well executed, in stock, plenty of employees in every department, all registers open, all employees smiling and offering help and knew the answers.
CVS – thumbs down. Not cheery, not decked for the holidays, out of stock, but did try to offer a solution. Ho-hum —not likely to return.
Staples – thumbs up. Only snag was a customer who was in front of us with a temporary check.
Cracker Barrel – breakfast was delicious and the shopping there was great!
Walgreens – again, ho-hum. No holiday music, grumpy employees. At least they were in stock.
It is my last year to do Black Friday. I don’t need the headaches for any amount of money and I need the sleep worse. I’ll be one of the online gang next year. And to think, I heard someone on the radio “BEGGING” for people to shop in the stores and NOT shop on the Internet. Why? So I can deal with all the headaches? If a store can offer a deal in the wee hours of the morning they can offer it to me at 10 am or 2pm or 6pm.
And, to the families who lost loved ones in the frey — I am praying for you and hoping your sorrow lessens somehow. I can’t imagine what your pain is like and I am sorry you have to face this sadness.
Ginger

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tlnblue December 2, 2008 at 1:22 am

While I don’t participate in the traditional black friday debacle, I can sympathize with those customers who experienced frustration. I walked in to a JCPenny store the next day and it was complete chaos. Sales people appeared to be under-trained, merchandise was extremely untidy and the check-out lines were agonizingly slow due to the lack of clerks. Let’s face it, we’re living in a different time, where discord is the norm. The world is full of rude and under-trained employees. I dread having to call businesses, whether its a bank, store or utility company because more times than not, I’m put through the automated telephone hell and then I’m subjected to lengthy holds and then I have to try to get the problem resolved via a disinterested, incompetent assistant from Pakistan who I can barely understand.
Compared to years ago, the standards of customer service have taken a nose-dive, and I’m not happy at all about it.
I, too share Ginger’s thoughts and prayers for those affected by the tragedies that took place on black friday. Godspeed.

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