Around the Net

Black Friday Dawns Across The Consumer Republic

Today is Black Friday, the day when business reporters roll out of bed in the wee hours to keeps tabs on the looniness of the shopping public and provide grist for the mills of analysts who later today will wax eloquent about the near-term viability of the Consumer Republic.

As The New York Times headline tells us, in true fairytale fashion, "At the Stroke Of Midnight, The Shopping Began." It began even earlier at Wal-Mart, which was among a handful of chains that opened on Thanksgiving Day to relieve the pressure of the bargain-crazed masses. But a reporter for WCBS Newsradio 88 in New York who showed up at a Walmart in Long Island at 3:30 this morning said it took about two hours to get into the store and, once she was there, the big-ticket sale items had already been taken. Similar situation in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution's Rachel Tobin Ramos reports.



Neither rain nor cold nor sleet could get in the way of shoppers in the Motor City this morning, reports the Free Press, whose bevy of newshounds on the front lines are updating their stories regularly. "It's way crazier than last year," the manager of an Old Navy store (see story below for more on the retailer) tells Georgea Kovanis. But "cash strapped" shoppers were "seemingly subdued," the Detroit News says, reminding us of the beauty of two newspaper towns (oops, three!, although we'll have to wait a bit for the findings of the print-only Daily Press).

Bloomberg's Chris Burritt and Cotten Timberlake report that shoppers around the country say they brave the long lines and jostling crowds across the country -- many saying they do it for the sake of their families. But one 52-year-old grandma admits that the whole experience gets her adrenaline going. "It's kind of like the excitement of getting that elusive game," says Lorna Artibani, taking a break from bargain hunting in a mall in West Hartford, Conn.

Out on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Times leads with a picture of shoppers bursting through the doors of an outlet mall, looking as if they'd liberated Paris or won the Super Bowl. "I only buy electronics once a year, on Black Friday, because I can be dumb about it and still get a good deal no matter what I touch," confesses one Best Buy customer.

Indeed, all the shopping today isn't necessarily altruistic. Paul Leinwand, a vp in the retail practice at consultancy Booz & Co. tells the Wall Street Journal's Miguel Bustillo that many consumers are scratching a pent-up demand for personal purchases. "It doesn't compete with the gift shopping, which comes later." Bustillo also reports that most major retailers began Black Friday-style sales online earlier this week to compete with Web-only sellers. That kind of takes the luster off of Cyber Monday, Alax Pham reports in the Chicago Tribune.

As for me, feeling bloated by the pumpkin pie, carrot cake and Irish soda bread that found its way into the house yesterday, I bypassed the $589 (orig. $1,199.99) treadmill at Sport Authority and bought a $6 jump rope -- with free shipping -- at Amazon. If I were a card-carrying pundit, that would portend a lot more than the fact that I am a natural-born tightwad.

Speaking of pumpkin pies, their near-term future is squishy. NPR's Fred Bever reports a poor pumpkin crop means that canned filling is in short supply. Putting my pundit hat on, it's a situation that clearly may lead to an over-supply of jump ropes in the New Year's Resolution shopping season.

Read the whole story at Wall Street Journal, et al. »

Next story loading loading..