I know a Black Friday retail secret

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Black Friday advertisements in the Thanksgiving Day newspapers all across the country you are bound to read something that claims a store will have a minimum number of a certain item on hand for Black Friday. Maybe Kmart claims they will have a minimum of 50 Nintendo Wii's per store. Or Best Buy states they will have a minimum of 25 of a certain Sony laptop on hand.

So you camp out and you wait in line all night after stuffing your face full of Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. You count how many people have the same odd desire as you to wait overnight in a cold line and by your count you are guaranteed to be walking out of the store with the big ticket item at a dirt cheap price that is so low you feel like you are getting away with something.

When the doors open you are clearly one of the first people to grab your item of choice but the store tells you they are all out. How can this be? The store said they will have "X" available for customers when they open. You hurry off to another store wondering why they would claim to have so many and then quickly run out when you get in the store.

I will tell you what happened, because I have witnessed it in my time working in a certain, unnamed office supply store.

One of the associates working that morning made a purchase before the store opened. Worse yet, multiple associates made a purchase before the doors opened for business. A store that is sent ten GPS devices from their warehouse specifically for Black Friday all of a sudden has just four when they open.

While you were waiting in the bitter cold waiting to get your hands on a deal, the sales associate (who likely didn't want to come in so early - yet still after you probably waited in line) reserved his or her item, made the purchase in the warm store and stowed it away in the employee break room or behind the cash register where nobody would see.

It happens. Is it fair? Depends on who you ask. I see both sides of the argument having worked through it.

On one hand it is blatantly unfair for a loyal and dedicated customer to wait outside for a certain item, only to find out it is sold out before the store opens. On the other hand the store associates likely do not get enough of a break most of the time and maybe they are deserving of taking advantage of the opportunity.

What do you think? Is it fair for store employees to be buying the limited time deals before the doors open on Black Friday?

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