Thanksgiving is thankfully a quiet day for me. No family drama or anything like that, everyone behaves and gets along. Black Friday on the other hand, is a crazy lack of sleep day. I did my first black Friday years ago as a consumer, now that I’m on the other side of things, it is still a very interesting day.
Most people look at Black Friday from the consumer perspective, going out at odd hours to get a deal. It’s a little like war, long periods of nothing all of a sudden broken by a quick and fast moment of action. Most of time you wait, and just sit there and find ways to pass the time, then the doors open. People rush in and grab the deal they want and try to get out as fast as they can. Then once out, the rush is gone and adrenalin starts to go down.
This year, I was working, not in the stores but monitoring the systems in the back. I was up all night watching the systems and going to stores as well. I would wait until after the stores had opened to go see. Normally an hour or two after the open. I really wasn’t into the crowds, especially since the day had taken a 40F drop in temps.
As usual, the place was chaos, I spent more time at other retailers stores because I know what the stores are like at mine and with all the people on the team in the store, there was no reason for me to take up space. I was curious about seeing what retailers who are not often mentioned, where doing. Places like World Market where I went at 7am on my way into the office. They gave me a free Life of Pi ornament and a pass to watch a movie for free. And the little chocolate bears from Germany that are in the Christmas section, well worth the $4!
I also went to the Apple store at 6am which was not as busy as you would think, probably because the deals were a bit of a yawn.
I did go to Herbergers and Macy’s around 12:30am. Those were pretty crazy and packed with people. The staff at Macy’s seemed overwhelmed.
I took a walk through Wal Mart at 3am, it looked like a tornado had gone through there.
Overall I saw a less chaotic day. Most people were mellow, I didn’t see anyone go crazy like I have in years past. In a way it was kind of anti-climatic. The new schedule for stores spreads things out over a longer time period of 12 hours vs the 3-4 hours in the past. Now it’s 8pm to 8am where as before, 5am to 9am was what you saw. That smaller window seemed to keep people fired up and making it all crazy. Now, people go out because they can’t sleep and don’t have to work the next day so it’s a different mood for a lot of people who are out.
So how does this all fit with big data? Black Friday is a shopping day on steroids. You will see behavior 10x the level you normally will. I do think there is a lot of good information to gain from seeing what people do on Black Friday. Exactly what kind of information? Well, that’s something you have to hire me to find out. In this world where analysis and trend spotting is the new gold, I can’t just hand that information out.
I ended my all night Black Friday at about 2pm. No sleep all night and no breakfast, but after a big Thanksgiving dinner, that’s ok.