Retailers, consumers and prices
We were wondering earlier today how much longer it would take until customers shopping for Black Friday deals got rowdy. We told you about one shoving match in Centennial, Colorado, that involved dropping a little old lady. Now we have a “disturbance” at a Walmart store in Upland, California, near Rancho Cucamonga in Southern California’s Inland Empire. What motivates some of these attacks? Toy hamsters! (See our earlier entry on this phenomenon. Also, look toward the bottom of this blog entry.)
The San Bernardino Sun reported details:
“Upland police officers received reports of the disturbance about 2:45 a.m. Friday and sent about four officers to the store at 1540 W. Foothill Boulevard, Lt. Jim Etchason said. ‘A manager at the store called it in to the police department,’ Etchason said. ‘(The manager) said numerous customers were causing a disturbance with each other.’”
The cops told managers to close the store while they cleared out shoppers and made them wait in the parking lot. A few hours later, they were allowed to go back inside, the Sun reported. There were no reports of injuries or damage, the paper said on its website.
A company spokesman confirmed the incident, but said the store was cleared out and closed for 45 minutes.
Bargain shoppers turned out en masse across the land on Friday morning to observe Black Friday rituals, while retail temples from Target to Macy’s to Saks slashed prices to get people to do one simple thing: buy more stuff.
But upscale stores — and some their shoppers — seemed to think the Black Friday extravaganza beneath them.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, the banking capital of the New South, Black Friday’s traditional retail flood was a relative trickle, thanks to residue from the recession. Several Black Friday shoppers said the economic downturn and the plight of the local banks would play a major role in how the city’s residents spent during the holidays.
“We’re spending very differently than we ever have, and I don’t see that changing for a long time,” said Rob Seidman, 39, a Charlotte resident and a banker. He declined to say which bank he worked for, only to say it “employed thousands here.”
In Fort Worth, Texas, employees at the massive Cabela’s — a retailer that caters to the hunting, fishing and outdoor crowd — said this Black Friday seemed quiet compared to last year’s.
Early shoppers browsed for guns, fishing rods and camping gear beneath row upon row of stuffed animal heads. New York-listed Cabela’s claims to be the world’s foremost outfitter for hunting and fishing gear and specials included a pink (for the ladies) Ruger .22 rifle with a 10-round magazine at $259.99, a $30 savings. Various handguns were going for as much as a $120 off.
If 134 million Americans out there can get excited by the annual shopping “frenzy” called Black Friday, it’s inevitable that a few of them will get excited enough to commit violence in the name of discounts.
I’ve been scanning the headlines for reports of injuries caused by shoppers whose quest for ecstasy means beating other people — with their fists if necessary — to things that big corporations sell to make customers temporarily feel better and to make shareholders feel better all the way through the fourth quarter.
Black Friday is no longer a sport for the leisurely shopper. From our late-night rounds, it became clear that people were lining up all over in the dead of night (and some earlier than that!) not just for the fun of it but out of necessity.
While many of the stoutest shoppers were grimly determined to get their deals and get out, there was some fun and holiday cheer.
A major shopping mall operator is offering some early holiday perks to retail workers as they handle the onslaught of shoppers on Black Friday.
For the first time, Taubman is giving out free breakfast and mini massages to the workers at its shopping centers around the United States on Nov. 27 — a.k.a. the day after Thanksgiving, a.k.a. the kickoff of the winter holiday shopping season.
The idea is that if those workers are happier – and well fed — the day can be a bit less stressful for everyone. Hand, neck and shoulder massages may also ease the stress of dealing with thousands of shoppers flocking to stores in search of gifts.
Water bottles being handed out to retail staff (shown here) are adorned with the slogan “retail therapy refresh”
“relax. take a deep breath. smile,” the bottle reads.
Retailers, especially those at upscale malls like Taubman’s The Mall at Short Hills, could certainly use a boost. Sales are expected to be up minimally, at best, this holiday season, even after last year’s poor showing as the recession took hold.
Some of Taubman’s malls will also dole out free breakfast for early morning shoppers, spokeswoman Karen Mac Donald said. Other goodies, such as free early morning parking at centers where shoppers usually have to pay (like the Beverly Center in Los Angeles), are also planned.
And its never too early to think about deals, as illustrated by dealsnews.com, which has compiled a list of what it predicts will be the best holiday deals to emerge between mid-November and “Cyber Monday” — the Monday after Thanksgiving when office workers go online en masse to shop for specials.
The beaten-down appliance sector got a shot in the arm on Black Friday as many consumers bought new washers for their laundry rooms, one spot survey shows.
Retailers say it can be difficult to measure their monthly sales results accurately on a year-over-year basis because of calendar shifts — sometimes a holiday falls in one month, boosting results, while the next year the holiday shifts into a different month, hurting results.
The most drastic case of this is usually seen in March and April, when the timing of the Easter holiday can help March sales and hurt April, or vice versa.