As 2012 draws to a close, Big Box stores like Best Buy are struggling to sculpt a business concept that takes into consideration competition from online purchasing options and the right size for their retail outlets.
But if Black Friday shopping in the company's Huntington store is any indication, that’s not stopping customers from putting a rebounding economy's 'boots to the ground,' and taking advantage of a holiday retail push that commences before the bones on the Thanksgiving turkey have gone cold.
The long line of midnight customers at the Huntington Best Buy had dissipated by 7 a.m. Friday, replaced by a steady stream of shoppers going in and out of the store with electronics piled high in their carts. It was an indication that things are looking up.
Sheila Flythe, who walked out of the store with several items she was able to purchase at the 'Doorbuster' price, was surprised and happy. “There were only a few doorbuster things left, but I got what I was looking for,” she said. “I guess maybe it was my lucky day.”
Not all were enticed by the ‘Doorbuster’ hype. A young man named Joe, who walked out wearing flip flops and a hoodie, had come in for a computer bag, and nothing more. “I‘m just shopping for myself,” he declared. “Black Friday‘s nothing special to me.”
Joe’s sentiments were not typical. While in general most were too late for deals that carried a proviso of ‘limited quantities, one per customer, tickets required to purchase items in store,’ the prevailing sentiment of the 7 a.m. shoppers was enthusiasm.
Fran, who came out of the store with two flat screen TVS, admitted it was her first time shopping on Black Friday. “It wasn’t a bad experience,“ she said. “Not so crowded.“
Sally, Melissa and Sarah preferred the early morning hours for shopping, even if it meant missing the big savings. “It’s not so chaotic,” said Sally. “I bought some things even though they weren’t Doorbuster deals.”
Leonard, who had traveled from Great Neck, agreed. With a 40” TV in tow as he left the store, he said. “I don’t do this kind of shopping usually -- I don’t like crowds. But I figured if I came early in the morning, instead of midnight, it wouldn’t be so bad.”
As for Kim, who came from West Islip with friends, it was all they could do to get their 7 a.m. purchases into the back of their SUV. “I refused to come out at midnight,” she declared. “I think it’s wrong to come out on Thanksgiving -- I want to have the full family experience first.”
But with the sun rising on Black Friday, and Kim’s SUV nearly loaded up with electronics items, all bets were off.
“I’ve bought a TV, a Kindle, Skylanders -- you name it,” she said as her friends tried to push several LED screens into the back of the vehicle. “And we’re not done. We’re headed for Toys R Us.”
According to Panos Mourdokoutas, professor of economic at LIU Post and a Forbes columnist, early signs of Friday's turnout are an indication that consumer confidence is coming back.
“There’s a few reasons for that," he said. "The stock market is holding well, housing prices are rising steadily, and the job market is improving. And interest rates continue to stay record low. All that's good for the consumer.”
What's good for the consumer is good for the retailer, or so it seems at Best Buy.