Black Friday 2012; Barbarians at the Gate

By Jack McDermott
  Executive Online Editor|
Thousands are expected to storm Walmart on Nov. 22 for a chance to       grab the best deals of the year in
a two-day shopping event unlike any       other starting 8 p.m. Thanksgiving and going on till Friday, Nov. 23.
“When the doors first open everyone rushes to the appliance section,”     said sophomore Paul Dufaj, who has been cashing in on Black Friday       deals for the past four years at big-box stores.
To prepare for the rush, Walmart manager Dan Caruso will hire 40 temporary employees and start to plan the store layout for the event.  He will also begin receiving items three weeks in advance.
“We have to plan where these items will be placed, who will be in charge of [supervising] these items and just prepare how to manage the traffic flow with how many people come into [Walmart],” said Caruso.
The temporary employees will be in charge of guarding hot items as well as keeping the customers from getting too rowdy.  Dufaj sees customers being taken out by the police for fighting and shoplifting every year, but social sciences teacher and avid Black Friday shopper Jon Kaminsky finds misbehavior to be uncommon.
“People are really nice,” said Kaminsky.  “Out of 100 people, one person is a jerk and 99 are really nice.”
Caruso explains how unruly behavior is expected from such a large event and that policemen will be stationed at the stores just in case.  Although extremely unlikely to occur, numerous stores do report injuries ranging from tramplings to pepper spray explosions.
“Most people are respectful but you always have those people who will push. It’s our job just to remain calm and hopefully the customers will remain calm,” said Caruso.
Sleep deprivation most likely contributes to the crabby aura since most stores, including Walmart and Target, have previously opened at midnight.  To get a hand on some of the best items Dufaj sleeps over at his cousin’s house and makes sure to get to Target right when it opens.
The benefits of coming early include getting the best sales and saving the most money. The top items normally sell out in an hour but this year Walmart is offering guarantees on an iPad 2, 32” HDTV and blue-ray player that would allow a customer to pay the sale price for an item at a later time if the wanted item goes out of stock.
Similarly, Target is going to “ticket” the hottest items this year.  Ticketing items means that the first 50 or 100 customers in line will receive a ticket  guaranteeing a particular item like a TV.  This new system was put in place to try to stop customers from sprinting to the appliance section as soon as the doors open.
One might think waking up early to shop the day after Thanksgiving is ridiculous, but according to Dufaj, the sales make it more than worth the trouble.  Some stores actually lose money on the best selling items because the sales are so high (see “The bestselling Black Friday products of 2011”).
“Some items you know you’re going to lose money on but the idea is to bring people into the store,” said Caruso.
To avoid the early sprint and competition to get the best items, many customers are turning to online sales the monday after Black Friday.
Last year alone, web shoppers spent $1.028 Billion online according to comScore, but Caruso has not yet noticed a change in the turnout and does not expect less shoppers to come out this year.
“Every year [Black Friday shoppers] go out to get the deals.  A big part of it is saving the money but another big part is the tradition and how people do it year in year out,” said Caruso.
The bestselling Black Friday products of 2011
1) Apple iPad
2) Amazon Kindle
3) Apple iPhone 4
4) iPods and iPod accessories
5) Gamestation consoles (Xbox, PS3 and Wii)
6) Flatscreen televisions
7) Appliances
8) Digital cameras
*Most products listed are expected to also make the top-selling items list of 2012.
Information courtesy of