Black Friday Morning: Tamer Than Expected

I could hear my BlackBerry chirping in the early morning hours on Black Friday. No, it wasn't my friends e-mailing me about how wonderful their Thanksgiving feasts were. It was retailers sending out last-minute e-mails to entice shoppers like me with free shipping deals and 50 percent off sales (just in case I hadn't seen the various circulars that got pushed through my mail slot over the last week).

Black Friday 2007 was my first after-Thanksgiving shopping experience in many years. I'm usually one of those nuts who gets around to her shopping on Christmas Eve. I live on the edge, what can I say.

So I ventured to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City with a little fear and a strong cup of coffee. No, I wasn't one of the, I mean adventurous ones that got there at 6 a.m. when the Arlington mall opened its doors. I gave myself until a respectable 9:30. As I rounded the exit off 395, I anticipated long lines of cars waiting to get into the lots, but the streets were nearly barren. I pulled into the parking garage bracing myself for the scramble to find a parking space; instead I found plenty just a few feet away from Nordstrom's top floor entrance -- my usual spot. I approached the heavy glass doors expecting to get pushed and jostled. But I was greeted with faint Christmas music playing overhead and the sound of metal hangars sliding around displays as a few shoppers searched for deals.

Of course as I made my way further down to the central artery of the Fashion Centre, the foot traffic picked up and the noise level increased slightly. But even Santa's lap was waiting for a warm body to rattle off this year's wish list. Big stores like Macy's, Victoria's Secret and Banana Republic were typical scenes of what I expected for Black Friday: Cashiers at Macy's explaining how their storewide sales worked with coupons shoppers clipped from the newspaper, families mapping out their game plan of when to meet and where, husbands pushing strollers of bored toddlers behind shopping-crazed wives -- all topped off with the soft accompaniment of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby singing about roasting chestnuts and sleigh bells.

Shoes were a big hit at Macy's and Nordstrom. Both department stores displayed various racks of 50 percent off shoes, including ones designed by Enzo Angiolini, Chinese Laundry and Jessica Simpson. Jewelry at Macy's was also attracting a lot of buzz with silver, gold and everything in between, going for up to 50 percent off.

Many stores, such as The Children's Place and Ann Taylor, had time-limited sales, such as 20 percent off everything until noon. Victoria's Secret was enticing shoppers with a large plastic "Supermodel Tote" if you spent $60.

As the morning wore on, the foot traffic continued to pick up. But it wasn't the insane scene I had nightmares about last night. Many sales people told me they expected mayhem in the afternoon when shoppers made their way from electronics and discount department stores such as Kohl's, to the malls. Conclusion: hit Target and Best Buy this afternoon.

What was your Black Friday shopping experience?

By Tania Anderson |  November 23, 2007; 12:24 PM ET General Interest , Holidays and Special Occasions
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Malls were empty. I was able to go to White Flint mall, Westfield Wheaton, and Wheaton Montgomery and the malls were emptier than you would see at closing time. Many stores didn't have any sales. I walked into some of the stores, and there were no sales. Gap had nothing on sale, American Eagle had 15% off, Banana Republic had 30% off some items. Parking was a breeze.

Definitely a lackluster day. My prediction, this black Friday will still be a red Monday.


Posted by: Brian G | November 23, 2007 5:01 PM

Took advantage of Michael's coupons from this week's circular to grab some crafting items they never have on sale for 25%+ off. I got there 5 mins before their early bird special expired and it was a mob up in the Sterling store. Half an hour later, the place was dead. Decided to bag it and maybe troll for deals on Sunday morning.

Posted by: agroshong | November 23, 2007 8:07 PM

It was sort of a non-event, I thought--I did end up going about 10 AM, and it wasn't the hectic scene I expected. Macy's was busiest (think coupons), but the other retailers had hardly anyone.

I really wonder if stores got into the black on Friday?

Posted by: slowshopper | November 26, 2007 10:57 AM

They got into it on Long Island. The Tanger Outlets opened at midnight Thanksgiving night and the people were literally breaking down doors. The LIE was like the middle of rush hour. Crazy. I went Sunday and still got great deals.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | November 27, 2007 1:12 PM

Hi Tania,

For a less hectic shopping experience, please come to the annual Takoma Park Alternative Gift Fair, which will take place on Saturday, December 1 from 12pm - 4pm at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church (310 Tulip Avenue, Takoma Park, MD).

Local, national, and international nonprofits will be on hand to discuss their work and help you choose meaningful donations for those on your holiday list. There will be live music, tasty treats, and activities for children, including cookie decorating for Meals on Wheels of Takoma Park. There's no charge to enter, cash and checks are accepted and alternative gifts are tax-deductible.

It's a really fun thing to do for the whole family and very much in the spirit of the season. If you can't make it to Takoma Park, Alternative Gifts of Greater Washington will sponsor another fair in Hyattsville on the 9th and many other communities are sponsoring similar events, see for details!

Posted by: Sara | November 28, 2007 11:06 AM

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