Best Buy’s Black Friday deals were virtually the same online as in store, but that didn’t stop bargain hungry shoppers from lining up Thanksgiving afternoon for the retailer’s 5 p.m. opening. At the Richfield store near corporate headquarters, a handful of people started lining up at 2 p.m. with many clutching Black Friday fliers as they patiently waited on a mild Minnesota day. By the time store opened, the parking lot was full and CEO Corie Barry was there at the door to greet customers who quickly nabbed carts to haul off their 70-inch UHD televisions on sale for $549.99.
This Black Friday marks Barry’s first as CEO, but as she told employees at the Richfield store, she’s worked the holiday weekend almost her entire career. “I left my two kids – I have a 13 year old and a 9 year old–this morning, we had a quick brunch and then I took off to go to work. Many of you left people too and you did it to come here and be part of your Best Buy family, do your jobs, and hopefully have a little bit of fun together. You need to know I am incredibly, deeply grateful,” Barry said to the staff right before store opening. “After 20 years of no Thanksgiving, or limited Thanksgiving, I get it; it’s not easy. And yet at the same time, you will make technology dreams come true. There are people waiting outside in line who would never buy the things they’ll be able to buy tonight. Because you have them here at exceptional prices with exceptional service. You are going to make some kid, some mom, some grandma’s Christmas better.”
Best Buy CEO Corie Barry greets Black Friday shoppers on Thursday evening. Photo courtesy of Best Buy.
Barry planned four store visits on Thanksgiving and said she’d be out all day, or at headquarters monitoring numbers on Friday. The National Retail Federation estimates 165.3 million Americans will shop this weekend with Black Friday being the busiest day. According to an NRF survey, 39.6 million consumers were considering shopping on Thanksgiving Day, 114.6 million on Black Friday, 66.6 million on Small Business Saturday. After a dip to 33.3 million on Sunday, shoppers are expected to return to work Monday with their credit cards in hand, ready to nab Cyber Monday deals. An estimated 68.7 million are expected to take advantage of online bargains on Monday.
If the early crowds are any indication, the shopping is off to a strong start. Target parking lots were packed for 5 p.m. store openings on Thursday. At Mall of America, more than 3,000 lined up for the 5 a.m. opening Friday—and that was just at the north entrance, where deals were being handed out to those earliest in line (the first arrived at noon on Thursday). Thousands more came in through other doors and a mall spokesperson says the crowd grew bigger and faster than last year.
Anxious to keep the momentum going, Target on Friday announed early Cyber Monday deals. For the first time, Target will kick off its Cyber Monday sale on Sunday with offers such as $80 off seventh generation iPads, 40 percent off bed and bath and a 43-inch TCL TV for $219.99. Target will roll out new deals every day through Dec. 9, which has been dubbed "Green Monday."
"We're giving guests more reasons than ever to shop with Target throughout the holiday season," executive vice president and chief markting and digital officer Rick Gomez said in a statement.