Taking the Pulse on Black Friday

Macys ShoppersAs the holiday shopping season got off to a strong start, exceeding the expectations of most retailers, Dollars & Sense reporters hit the stores late Thanksgiving Day and early Friday. From Manhattan to Danbury, Conn., they found sales promotions that fell short of customer expectations; tired retail employees — some of whom were delighted by the prospect of a lucrative Black Friday weekend and others who resented being pulled away from their family holidays — and much more.
Black Friday at Woodbury Commons:
The Bargain Shopper’s Pleasure and the Employee’s Pain

By Erica Hanger
Malina Lambach does not relish Black Friday.

“Imagine having to practically inhale your Thanksgiving dinner, say your goodbyes to your family and not be able to spend the rest of your holiday in a food coma like everybody else,” said Lambach, a sales associate whose 12-hour shift at Saks Fifth Avenue OFF Fifth at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, N.Y., began at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours before the store officially opened.

Every year thousands of shoppers from all over the tri-state area flock to Woodbury Common, a 220-store mall, for door buster deals that begin at midnight on Thanksgiving. However, some larger department stores, including Saks, require employees to arrive even earlier on Thanksgiving Day to prepare for the shopping madness. Read more…
Where Are the Sales?

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. Read more…
A Veteran Salesman’s First Black Friday at Macy’s

By Jason Volnick
Marvin Robinson, 50, has been a salesman in the second floor men’s department at Macy’s flagship department store on Herald Square for less than a year. But after Black Friday, he feels like a seasoned veteran.

Soon after the store opened at midnight, the men’s department, like most of the rest of the store, looked like a tornado had ripped through it, with shoppers in search of bargains tearing through the folded clothes, many of which ended up cluttering the aisles. Read more…
Black Friday Shopping in Harlem Has Just Gotten A Lot Easier

By Michael Smith
On 116th Street and the FDR Drive, the two-year-old East River Plaza Multiplex, which includes such big-box retailers as Target, Best Buy and Costco, was packed at midnight on Thanksgiving. Cars jammed the multi-level parking garage. And the line of pedestrians heading for the mall’s ramps and escalators stretched down the block.

Traditionally, Harlemites would have to travel downtown to 86th Street, Time Square or Herald Square, just to name a few infamous Black Friday war zones. Read more…
On Black Friday Weekend, the Queens Center Mall Becomes a Kids Zone

By Tiffani C. Dawson
Black Friday weekend at Queens Center Mall isn’t just for bargain-hunting adults. The busiest shopping weekend of the year has turned some stores into kids’ zones, with strollers and tired or unruly children filling the aisles. Read more…