Make us your home page
Instagram

Black Friday will stay marathon event as long as shoppers flock

So the question recurs: Why do retailers force customers to endure the ever-longer marathon that Black Friday has become?

Because they just can't stop after training shoppers for so long to wait for deep discounts.

Stores won't fill in this year's details until Thursday, when many report November sales. But according to early estimates, more shoppers hit the stores this time, though they spent the same or a bit less than a year ago.

Despite all the hoopla, it's becoming clear today's frugal shoppers didn't see prices as low as they needed to pull the trigger. Not just savvy shoppers noticed. So did folks who track sale prices with the passion the National Enquirer has for celebs.

"Many Black Friday discounts, especially in electronics, were just not that great," said Dan de Grandpre, president of dealnews.com. "Many were the same sale prices seen a few weeks ago. Special purchases were often a model missing a feature or cheap appliances you wouldn't want."

While online sales jumped 11 percent Black Friday, that's less a sign of more people steering clear of stores than a reflection of how the Internet has changed how people buy.

Today's multitasking shoppers do research on the Web, then hit stores to touch and feel products and scout deals found only in stores. Then many comparison shop online, double-checking store Facebook pages or Twitter sale alerts before buying. Mobile tech means they can shop the Internet from inside a store. This time, Walmart honored Black Friday door-buster sale prices online, too.

How else to explain that 38 percent of shoppers planned to be out before 6 a.m., yet, according to comScore, 21 percent of Black Friday online sales were made before 5 a.m.?

Other Black Friday nuances:

• Stores that opened earlier in the wee hours drew big crowds. Toys "R" Us lured twice the crowd at midnight as it once did at 5 a.m. Old Navy was jammed at 3 a.m. and the line an hour later at Kohl's in St. Petersburg had 500. So expect more all-nighters.

• After last year's death toll of three (a Walmart worker was trampled to death in a Long Island store opening rush; the other two men shot each other in a nonshopping feud in a California toy store), violence was limited to fists flying at people crowding up in line and one parking-lot stabbing in Atlanta.

• One Black Friday move that could spread: Taubman Centers Inc. bought 2,000 store workers at its International Plaza in Tampa bagel and cream cheese breakfasts, handed them a list of stress reduction tips and hired a dozen therapists to offer free massages in break rooms.

"We think happy merchants equals happy shoppers," said Nina Mahoney, mall marketing director.

Stores have been trying to prod holiday shoppers to spend earlier in November for years. But the eventual "death" of Black Friday seen by a few retailers appears unlikely. As long as Americans have a day off and family tradition to uphold, bargain hunting mobs will be out.

It signals the start of holiday shopping. Yet privately, executives know if they don't make it harder to score deep discounts, how can they expect anybody to pay full price again?

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Black Friday will stay marathon event as long as shoppers flock 11/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2009 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  4. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  5. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.