By Ashley Tavoularis
Walking into the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury, Conn., at midnight, on my first ever Black Friday outing, I was expecting to be ushered into the sale of all sales. Credit card in hand, I was ready to buy as much as possible of my favorite shopping indulgence — clothes — while spending as little as I could.
Long lines in front of Foot Locker, Victoria’s Secret, Champ’s Sports and Macy’s looked promising, as did signs displaying sales of anywhere from 20 to 60 percent off. Entering The Gap, which had one such sign, I was excited to see the sale items lined up in front. However, nothing was of interest to me. I moved toward the back of the store, perusing the clearance section, which was jammed mostly with tattered, damaged and unappealing summer clothes. Miraculously, I ended up finding everything I had wanted—but none of it was on sale. Buying a pair of black slacks and work blouse I desperately needed, I left feeling duped.
“Black Friday’s basically a trick to lure you in,” said one cynical father, who would identify himself only as Pat, and who tagged along with his 13-year-old daughter. “People are giving out cans of Red Bull around the mall and hired a DJ to play loud music in the middle of it. It’s a blatant scheme so people could shop, even though a lot of stuff isn’t even on sale.”
In fact, I found many others shared the same sentiment. “Yeah, I came with the intention of buying sale items but you can’t help what catches your eye and makes you really want it, even if you know that that’s probably what the store’s goal is anyway,” said Colleen Kearns, 18, who was standing in the line at Forever 21 and bought five shirts, a purse and jeans. However, only two of the shirts were on sale, shaving off about $10 from her purchase, which totaled about $85.
I made my way from store to store, taking notice of how little was actually on sale once you made your way past a few select items, strategically positioned near the entrance ways. Almost every store had a rack or two of clothes on sale, while most items remained at full price. H&M had an almost empty clearance rack in the back — the extent of its Black Friday deals. “I feel like everyone says what great deals they get on Black Friday, but I think a lot of that is geared more toward things like electronics and household items,” said Kearns. “I don’t think clothes get as much of a discount.”
Black Friday didn’t live up to its reputation of offering untold holiday bargains. But that didn’t seem to matter, as customers were still picking up merchandise despite their full-price tags. At clothing stores, the cashier lines were almost out the door. A weak economy didn’t seem to dampen shopper enthusiasm — at least not at the Danbury Fair Mall.