Ann Taylor, Apple, Starbucks Looking To Be Our Black Friday Winners

…If our little shopping centre in the Philadelphia suburbs, Suburban Square, is any indication.

When we popped over to check out what was happening at the outdoor mall around two o’clock we saw a few interesting things. Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, and J. Crew had only a few shoppers and the salespeople weren’t really engaging the customers. They all seemed to be just kind of going about their business; if someone asked them a question they’d respond but otherwise just folding and putting things away, almost on autopilot. In Williams-Sonoma they were changing a display in the window. It was as if they were resigned that the day would be sucky and they were just going through the motions. Talbots looked very understaffed, even for the few shoppers they had. At one point there were no salespeople out on the floor. Gap was busy-ish, as were Urban Outfitters and American Eagle Outfitters, but nothing to write home about.

Everyone had discounts, though!

But at least American Eagle had a greeter at the door—handing out a nifty scratch off coupon (15% for me)—as did Ann Taylor. Which I have to say in my limited observations handled the day right with a greeter by the door and lots of energetic salespeople running around helping customers. (Yes, there were customers; not an overwhelming amount, but there were people.) In store discounts were great, with lots of low prices. And there were some decent styles that we would actually wear. (We picked up a few things.) We overheard one of the managers on the phone with who we could only presume was the regional office. At 3ish they had already done 81% of their planned sales for the day and were going to be open for several more hours. The results seemed to be on par with the other stores in the area, too.

And then there was Starbucks. People may not have been spending on things but they were in groups happy to stop for a cup of expensive coffee together.

Oh, and here’s something that shouldn’t be surprising: The Apple store was completely packed. Besides Starbucks that’s the only place that felt to me like I was out on a traditional Black Friday.

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