Black Friday and Walmart Protests

The early kickoff to Black Friday this year, Black Thursday, certainly must have stolen business that would have otherwise been transacted on Friday. But, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers, over eighty million shoppers still attacked their shopping list Friday, more than double the volume of shoppers who ventured out shopping on Thanksgiving day.

Accounts of early shopping on Thursday and still robust crowds of bargain hunters on Black Friday seemed to indicate holiday shopping across the country is alive and well this year. From Walmarts to malls, shoppers were out in droves trying to find the bargains Black Friday has come to be known for and for many they were not disappointed. Retailers clearly didn’t shy away from some pretty aggressive promotions to get shoppers in their stores and they used some interesting tactics to keep them in stores longer.

Walmart, for example had good luck drawing in bargain hunters with a sale on a 32 inch HD television for $148. Some retailers used a staggered deal strategy, whereby they ran price drop promotions at specific times stretched out throughout the day and night. Many also offered to match online pricing to give consumers confidence to buy from them.

It wasn’t just shoppers who were optimistic about Black Friday deals. Industry analysts went into this huge holiday weekend with great expectations. A Deloitte retail analysts, Ramesh Swamy, said, “I’m actually seeing more activity this year,” and went on to say, “We could be heading towards a very good weekend.” It will be a while before actual results are all tallied up for retailers, but so far, things are not looking bad.

One of the big concerns this shopping weekend were the threatened protests at Walmart stores. Walmart employees and their supporters were expected to cause a potentially huge problem for the nation’s biggest retailer, but it seems their presence has not had the much anticipated effect some worried about. Many locations saw protesters outside their stores and some even reported the presence of a hundred or more toting signs.

One of the stores that drew about 150 protesters was Walmart’s only store in Portland, Oregon. Police were reportedly on scene at this store Friday morning after an arrest was made Thanksgiving night when one protester got out of hand. A resident from a neighboring community said, “I don’t think it’s fair that people have to work full time and still be on public assistance.”

With all the concerns Americans have about rising taxes, Walmart’s low wages and many other big picture worries, they still came out in droves on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. For most people, if they can save money they tend to be able to set aside issues that don’t seem to impact them directly. So, as much as many people feel for Walmart workers who are not paid very well, their desire to save money drew them into stores in search of deals. When the final numbers are tallied, it will be interesting to see how this year’s shopping stacks up against prior years, but preliminary results show reason for optimism.