We mostly steered clear of shopping today — went instead to the Chicago Art Institute’s new Modern Wing.

In the AM, the girls did go to Nordstrom‘s for shoes — the parking lot was pretty filled, but the store was not exactly jammed. (Like Bloomingdales, I will admit that you can while away lots of time surrounded by pretty young things trying on shoes).

Golf Universe was empty.

We also hit the Land’s End Inlet (outlet, get it?) — back when it was a catalog online retailer only, it used to be a unique kind of store. Since Sears took them over, its no longer what it was. It was busy, but not crazy.

The nieces and nephews hit a few stores — Von Maur was empty (what else is new) and Carsons was a madhouse (ditto).


What was your retail experience like?

Category: Consumer Spending

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31 Responses to “Black Friday Shopping Update”

  1. billybob says:

    My experience was to stay at home, away from mass buying hysteria and H1N1, colds, and other illness of humans in large numbers.

    Did a little browsing at some online stores but that was it. With the exception of a few gifts for the kid (plus some cash for his savings and spending), we are in major-league boycott of the consumptive economy.

  2. mbelardes says:

    Well I spent half the day working (seriously, just close the markets on Black Friday, not for shopping but because Turkey/Football/Family-Argument Day followed by West Coast 5am wake up for work at the brokerage is awful) and the other half of the day I spent surfing the internet thinking about buying stuff and then just paid my credit card bill and my December rent online.

    The only money I really “spent” today was the coin I threw on SDS. Now I’m just kicking back, sipping a beer (Costco Kirkland beer if that serves as a consumer indicator … not bad really), and wondering if I can get away with not buying gifts this year if I blame the economy.

  3. Wes Schott says:

    …physically shopping on Black Friday – Shirley, you jest

  4. cfischer says:

    Barry, How long are you in Chicago? Are you attending RSNA?

  5. donna says:

    Had a lovely afternoon at an artists’ sale… ;^)

  6. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Shopped for a rental a house on the beach in NC for the week of the 19th – 26th (that’s my gift to family – immediate and extended), forgave a debt for a friend, and ate a turkey sandwich while laughing at the fools trying to make everything like like it was before, but will probably never be again.

    mbelardes: Kirkland products never disappoint. A lesson in branding if there ever was one.

  7. ben22 says:

    Walked around Chestnut Hill local shops in Philly, it was very busy though that’s a pretty well to do area.

    Other than that I checked the Apple store “deals”…..amazon did have a few, I saw those dumbells on your wish list were marked down quite a bit.

  8. isolde100 says:

    We went to Union Square in downtown San Francisco, the heart of the shopping district close around noon. It was extremely crowded. There were so many more people walking around than last year. The Apple store was packed but the queues in front of the cash register were short. I popped into Crate and Barrel to buy baking utensils, and although there were people in the store, there were no queues. Barneys was fairly empty. I peek through the window and saw about 5 people on the ground floor. Nordstroms was very quiet, which was surprising. Usually at this time of the year, it’s crazy to even think of going there. I guess they did not mark down enough or people are waiting for their half-year sale which happens after Christmas. Macy’s was a zoo! They had huge markdowns on household goods (linens, appliances, etc.). Old Navy was also very crowded because they were advertising sweaters for $15, I believe.

    Conclusion: people were buying things only at places that had massive markdowns.

  9. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Was just in Best Buy an hour ago. After 3 other visits in the last 10 days to the same store (trying to find the right TV Tuner Card for the new PC in hopes of not just watching Hi-def TV on the new monitor, but also recording Comcast-provided programming to the hard drive like a DVR using Windows 7 Windows Media Center… unsuccessful thus far…), the crowd at 6pm was about 4 times what it was the other days. Further, the place, service areas up front, had the feel of having been stretched out, if that conveys a larger volume of traffic earlier in the day.

    A returns cashier (yup, 2nd time returning a TV Tuner Card), said they were out of all the special doorbuster items (no suprise), but that the awaiting crowd for the early morning opening was “smaller than last year”. If I had to guess, it’s because more folks waited last year than there were deals to be had. So the same folks probably new if the line was too long, they wouldn’t get the good stuff.

    Last, my visit tonight was a GREAT time to get Geek Squad service. There were 10-12 of the white shirt, black tie minions running about the front, with very little waiting. The two I talked to didn’t really know exactly what to tell me, but both were interested in what I was trying to do as future endeavors for their own home usage. They did help me identify that I need a “PCI express x 16″-type card for my new PC.

  10. constantnormal says:

    Stopped by an upscale mall, similar experiences to those reported by others — moderate crowds (this was around noon), but parking lots everywhere seemed crowed but still had room to park. The Apple store seemed to be doing a decent amount of business, with people walking out with notebooks and iPods, but at least half the traffic seemed to be people coming in for Genius Bar appointments.

    Noteworthy item — the Cash for Gold place was completely empty, the store clerk looking incredibly bored.

  11. gloppie says:

    Went to the mall by sheer curiosity, full of people but quite short lines at the registers.
    Went to Lowe’s to buy a Kerosene heather ($119, for when the world falls apart), same thing, lots of people, plenty of registers open, no lines. Then Home Depot for a special dichroic bulb for the (made in China) plastic nativity scene, $4.90, Lowes did not have it.
    Then on to big lots for a couple of stools for guests, same story.
    As far as retail goes, here in East Texas, it doesn’t look good. People are shopping but not buying.

  12. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Should’ve said Geek Squad service was great because evidently today is an “All geeks on deck day.”

  13. V says:

    Golf Universe was empty.

    Might need to seasonally adjust these numbers, it is heading into winter after all! :-)

  14. Rikky says:

    swung by Short Hills Mall in northern NJ, an upscale mall with stores like Nieman Marcus, Henri Bendel, Tiffany’s, etc. Note this mall is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to recession proof. The parking lots were packed to the gills and you couldn’t find a spot unless you waited to find someone leaving. Inside the crowds were of moderate size but nothing where you couldn’t walk around without much trouble. Like others have said the registers weren’t that busy.

  15. The Curmudgeon says:

    One of the little blessings of having a loved one in a hospital during Thanksgiving: No fucking turkey; no relatives (except for short visits); no shopping malls. Just a little football on TV and that was it. And I love watching Detroit lose.

    The further away from this culture of excess, the better. Thuck Fanksgiving.

  16. philipat says:

    The Chicago Art Museum (On Michigan) is something of a secret. I was stunned by the collection of impressionist paintings in the modern wing. Probably one of the best collections in the world which was, for me, something of a lovely find. That and a perfect medium rare NY cut strip steak at the original Mortons made me a very happy camper!

  17. david_12321 says:

    It was nice. On Thursday I purchased the wii (on line sale at amazon). Later Thursday afternoon I stopped by Bergners (upscale department store) and saw 5qt kitchen aid mixers at $213; a very good price. Even the fancy 90th anniversary mixer with the (breakable) glass bowl for $240. Everything was marked the day before and ready to sell at the store. There were three other people in the kitchen part of the store when I was there. Almost no traffic at all. I guess the sales people went ahead and started the sale in the kitchen department. I purchased a mixer in gloss cinnamon.

    On Friday I went out with the kids returning Movies at 4pm. I figured it would be safe by then. We stopped at a couple stores and saw less than normal Friday 4pm traffic. I also saw that mixer on sale for $300.

    Overall, I was not impressed by the Black Friday ads. I did not see many bargains of interest.

  18. eren says:

    I am from Canada. We pay %15 tax here. I wanted to go to Buffalo for some shopping. I could not.I needed to trade, ie. go long bsx, short biib. there is probably a cure for MS. An Italian Prof.Dr. found a possible cure for MS.
    This may be a disaster for Biogen and good for Boston Scientific. If you are interested in this trade google for zamboni and ccsvi.
    I think I got everything. I don’t need to shop :)

  19. torrie-amos says:

    My shopping consisted of CVS and Burger King, cigs, baby rutes and whoppers. CVS had a gadget display when you walked in, crock pots, georgie foremans, sliders, etc……….it was pretty much like it always was, there when I needed the staples, lol………..

  20. constantnormal says:

    Of course, the other half of this picture is going to be how Amazon does on Monday. The trend (at least as I perceive it) is for web sales to be taking a larger chunk out of the seasonal business every year.

  21. CuriousCreature says:

    I live in Deschutes County (Sisters) Oregon. An area especially hard hit by the depression. Hey, I’m calling it like I see it… Mom stayed over and we got up at 5am, drove to Bend and hit Macys, JCPenney, Staples and Starbucks. All nicely packed except for Staples. My personal job situation is far better this year, but I still spent a modest amount. Did the smart thing and paid my bills the day before hitting the mall. Just bought what what needed to be repaired or replaced.

    If I had a large family I would have been much more aggressive. What’s not to love about a $7 winter coat?


  22. ZackAttack says:

    I honored National Buy Nothing Day, so my only connection to this was to be annoyed by the traffic as I headed out of town to a park.

  23. Had a lovely afternoon at an artists’ sale… ;^)

    That’s very cool. How much do artists go for these days? ;)

    @The Curmudgeon Says:November 27th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    One of the little blessings of having a loved one in a hospital during Thanksgiving

    I hope it allowed you to find something to be thankful for outside the madness of daily life

    Peace to your situation friend.

  24. Init4good says:

    I bought a “no name” 22″ LCD TV for my daughter for $199 and a Samsung blu-Ray player for $149 at Radio Shack. Some other store had a no name 32″ flat TV for $249 and I heard they were sold out very early as well. At 07:30am the little Radio Shack store was crowded and they were sold out of the 22″ TV. I predict that bargain TVs (ie Target/BestBuoy/etc) will be a big hit this year. Oh yeah my wife hit the Target about 08:00am and could not get out of the parking lot when she left – it took her 1/2 hr to get to the main street.

  25. arthur.i says:

    There is a very large mall called Bahia Sur that is smack dab in the middle of a collection of beach communities here at the tip of Europe in the southern most part of Spain on the Atlantic coast. There are perhaps a half a million people within a 35 mile radius.

    Spain as you probably know is suffering horrendous unemployment, above 17 % and rising. They have had a similar boom and bust in their residential property market similar to the U.S. Prices, peak to current trough are not down as much as the U.S. but they are still falling.

    The mall and stores were packed. The parking lot was jammed and the police were out directing traffic and assisting people to find areas to park. Once inside though people seemed to be looking and having coffee and drinks over looking the bay and seemed not to be buying much. There is a large food supermarket, Carrefour, kind of like a Wall Mart, and they were packed and people were filling shopping carts with food. Their prices for food are the lowest in the area and their vast variety is unparalleled as well.

    Outside of the food department it seemed that people were gravitating towards the cheapest products, TVs, computers, etc. and not much traffic around the high end stuff. Which is a bit of a cultural change for the Spaniards – normally when they do buy something they really want to “flash” and usually lean towards the high end expensive stuff.

    IMO, people like to go out and mingle with the crowd and shopping offers an opportunity to do that. You don’t actually have to buy much or anything to enjoy that part of the experience.

    As for me, I too honored National Buy Nothing Day (as I do most days of the year).

  26. nsambol says:

    Went to the Westchester Mall, yesterday, in White Plains – about 3pm. Busy but not as much as I thought it would be. Going on a field trip to the Palisades Mall in Rockland county today.

    Not too impressed with the sales – 20% off any purchase of $100 or more (I think that was the Limited).

    Saw a lot of people with bags but not as much as i I thought there would be.

  27. preames says:

    Here in middle America (Kalamazoo, MI) doesn’t seem to be good news for retail. I was at Gander Mountain today and their were plenty of spaces in the parking lots. Most of the traffic at GM was in the gun department. Rest of store, not so much. Lowes, same story, not a very full parking lot. Not much traffic congestion either.

  28. torrie-amos says:

    well the black friday numbers are out, up by 35%, i got this feeling this is the best we will get, if most people acted like me, heck even i was considering going to buy an lcd/tv and i’ve never in my life, i didn’t cause we put off the idea altogether, yet, i’d spent a month researching type and price and if idda bought it would have been yesterday, because, well, they were cutting prices like no tommorrow

  29. damonleo says:

    My experience in NYC was modest foot traffic at the Old Navy and TJ Max on 6th Avenue and 18th Street. Did not resemble what would be expected for a Black Friday. However, the most telling account of my shopping experience was a German man telling me “it is like shopping for free here in America”. What a disgrace this country has become.

  30. nsambol says:

    Just back from the Palisades Mall in Rockland county, in metro NY. Palisades is a mid-level mall, not upscale like the Westchester in White Plains.

    We arrived around 2pm and were able to snag a highly-coveted underground parking spot. Last year we had trouble getting an outside spot.

    Mall was pretty crowded but not unreasonably so. Quite a few people with packages. Food court was hopping but not so much for the day after Black Friday.

    One thing I noticed was that stores without significant sales had NO traffic – literally no one inside the store. Esprit was one of these.

    Even Old Navy, usually PACKED this time of year was not very busy. The line at the register was only 10 people long. Not bad at all.

    Once again, sales were not so great. 20-40% off was the average. Nothing to write home about.

    My guess is that the door-busters ran out and people were not as interested in opening their wallets.

    Time will tell.