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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Black Friday Blunders

The marketing genii are at it again:  stores that generally open at 5:00 am the day after Thanksgiving Thursday, will now open five hours earlier at 12:00 midnight, or some at 10:00 pm on Thanksgiving.  The day is called Black Friday in the United States, because the revenue from such sales puts the stores “in the black” (profits), rather than “in the red” (losses) on their accounting ledgers.

I think it’s called Black Friday because patrons rise in the middle of the night, when it’s still pitch black, to shop in the foggy haze of darkness.

Well, there appears to be a haze about the marketing mentality of those who want us to buy- buy- buy this Friday.  It all started when I ventured out to the suburbs to a few stores on Tuesday morning.   Mind you, we don’t have a lot of the big box discount stores in the city, so for me, it’s a sociological experiment to see how the other half lives.

We stopped at a Burlington Coat Factory.  I ran inside to see if I could find a few quick holiday gifts, because you see, Alexandra is not going anywhere within a 20-mile radius of any stores on Friday. I don’t like crowds.  I’m constantly surrounded by people, although very nice people, so why in the world would I subject myself to pushing, overtired, overaggressive mobs of bargain-hunters? We have relatives far away, so I need to start mailing gifts soon.

It was raining and windy.  I saw a whole lineup of shopping carts outside, not really near the doors, and decided to check, but no, they were all sopping wet.  So, my path took me straight inside.

Once there, I discovered… no shopping carts.  Anywhere.  Customers walking around with armfuls of items.  I spied a sales clerk walking away from a lone cart.

“Excuse me… is this cart free?” I asked sweetly.

She looked me up and down.

“You can have it if you want…” she finally agreed.

“Oh, if you’re using it….  I mean, I didn’t see any shopping carts anywhere in the store,” I explained.

“They’re all outside,” she responded.

“Well, that could explain it….”

I thanked her for the cart, but was so floored by the experience, that I left after a few minutes and a handful of “hardly anyhing” purchases.  If this was how they were encouraging sales…?  No shopping carts!  Not even a sign outside saying, “Grab a cart here”.

On to WalMart, where Benedetto decided to accompany me.  I needed a man’s pair of pants, a man’s wallet, plus a velour jogging suit for his mother, along with a few odds and ends.  We split up for our reconaissance mission.

When visiting the men’s section, I found everything cordoned off, huge stacks of children’s toys gathered together in mountainous “walls” under taut plastic shrink-wrap.  I could not get near the men’s items.  I pushed my cart (at least they had carts!) this way and that, a rat in a maze.  An irritated rat.  A frustrated rat.

Another woman approached me, staring at the shrink-wrap with big signs stating, “Not For Sale Before 10:00 pm, November 25th”

“Why won’t they let us buy?” she asked me.  “I’m willing to pay full price.  Why are they taking up all of this space?”

“I know,” I shook my head.  “It’s still three days away, and they’ve already closed half the store-!”

I tried to calculate the loss in revenue:  one big shopping day –versus- three lost days leading up to it.  And maybe they had begun closing down even before Tuesday-?  But I could not count that high on my fingers and toes, and decided to leave the revenue loss to the experts.  Read my lips:  Fourth Quarter Earnings may not be the best.  Hopefully, they didn’t pull these games in other stores across the country.

I found a chink in the wall of wares, and slipped back to a tiny alcove of men’s pants.  Hopping over some boxes which required me to do a long-jump of sorts, I landed smack-dab next to a startled Japanese man, also looking at pants.

“Oooh!” I screamed in surprise, unsure of which one of us was more taken-aback.

I glanced hurriedly and deciding that he had been there first, took my leave.  So much for the Men’s Department.

Benedetto was circling the Ladies’ Wear, reporting that there were no warm and “dressy” jogging suits for an older woman residing in an Assisted Care Facility.  He pointed to a regular sweatshirt that was all he could locate.

“No, no, no,” I waved him off.  “Nice, you want something nice and snuggly.”

Again we faced the mountains of items destined for Black Friday, this time crock pots and housewares.  I wondered what customers should do if they needed these items before Thanksgiving-?  The appliances formed a shiny, shrink-wrap wall in front of the velour-wear, followed by rolling carts of clothes on shelves, pushed smack against the clothing that we wanted to buy.  BUY.

As in REVENUE to the store.

INCOME.  SALES.  What’s not computing?  What if a shopper needed something to wear to Thanksgiving dinner?  Not that they would have to find it at WalMart, but really, many folks do.  It was then that I decided:  that wall was moving.

I did my Houdini move and bagged the burgundy ensemble for my mother-in-law.  I wondered about the marketing mentality that had shoppers waiting three days to shop… for one day.

No carts.  No access to everyday merchandise.  No ability for those who wish to buy items at full price today, even though they will be marked down in a few days.

Retailers:  Have your Frenzied Friday, but remember not to shoot your sales in the foot while you’re at it.

 

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