With all the discussion about stores opening on Thanksgiving, this year I decided to visit two of the stores that I’ve gone to on Black Friday for around a decade. Both traditionally have been closed on the holiday, and both were closed again this year: P.C. Richard & Son in Astoria, N.Y., and the Costco in Long Island City, N.Y.
My observations are completely unscientific, but they are a snapshot of that day and how it compared with my visits to those same stores on Black Fridays over the years.
At P.C. Richard & Son the parking lot was full and there was a steady stream of customers there at 11:35 a.m., just like prior years.
Among the offers in the store that morning was a Hisense 32-inch HDTV at 50 percent off for $149; a 70-inch Sharp LED at $2,199; and a Samsung 60-inch smart TV with Wi-Fi, marked down 37 percent to $1,198. A Sony 65-inch 4K set was priced at $4,999, “a $2,000 saving,” and $200 was knocked off the price of Sony’s 4K server.
John Bogdanos, the store manager, said business that morning “started steady and is building and building,” and he added, “We are on track to have good sales to match last year or do better.” When asked what was hot that day and during a week of Black Friday sales, he grinned and said, “Appliances and TVs, as always.” Tablets were also popular with the Apple section drawing a crowd too. And the major appliance area was busy.
As for the advantages or disadvantages of opening on Thanksgiving Day, he said, “I don’t know how you make money on Thanksgiving. You still have to pay your people an hourly wage, like we do, and the pricing has to be a lot lower [than normal] … which has to affect profits.”
Among the in-store deals I saw were:
- a Samsung 65-inch smart LED TV with built-in Wi-Fi for $1,998, a price cut of $1,101;
- a Samsung 60-inch smart TV for $1,198 with Wi-Fi, a price cut of $701;
- a Samsung 60-inch 1080p smart TV for $2,498, “a saving of $701,” according to P.C. Richard;
- an LG 55-inch smart TV with Wi-Fi for $749, “a saving of $100”; and
- a Samsung 55-inch for $697, a price cut of $202.
I visited Costco at 12:15 p.m. on Black Friday, and the parking lot was emptier than in past years and traffic was lighter in the store itself from what I remember. Still, there were plenty of deals available. There was a 70-inch Sharp 1080p smart TV for $1,679, and a 75-inch Samsung 1080p smart LED at $2,449 with a $99.99 three-year Square Deal warranty offer.
I met with Telly Colon, the store manager, who was experiencing his first Black Friday at this location, along with Rich Wilcox, Northeast regional VP. Both said that sales and traffic at the store were “not what we hoped it would be,” with most customers that morning coming in for other categories, especially food.
But when asked what has been selling here and in other Costco locations in the days leading up to Black Friday, Wilcox smiled and said, “TVs and tablets, tablets and TVs. That’s what’s driving our [CE] business.” He was hopeful traffic would build later that day at this location.
Among other deals available in the CE area were:
- a Samsung 55-inch 1080p smart TV for $869, a saving of $280;
- a Samsung 60-inch smart TV, 3D LED with 1080p, for $1,579, a saving of $400;
- a Vizio 50-inch 1080p 3D LED LCD, $649;
- a Samsung Galaxy Phone POP area with the Galaxy S 4 16GB for $129;
- a Sharp 80-inch1080p smart TV for $2,899, a saving of $200; and
- Samsung Galaxy tablets with the Galaxy Note package (bag and stylus) for $319.