CRESTVIEW — With national stores moving Black Friday sales earlier and earlier until they landed on Thanksgiving evening, the aisles of the Crestview Walmart were populated by more employees than shoppers Friday morning once the last sales “event” occurred at 5 a.m.
“They (customers) were lined up since 1 or 2 a.m. for the TVs, but once they were gone, so were the shoppers,” an unidentified checkout clerk said.
She was among several clerks waiting to direct the few shoppers who remained in the store by 5:30 a.m. to their available checkout aisles. Other workers stood around palettes of sale merchandise set up in the main aisles, ready to assist any customers.
“All the good stuff went on sale at 8 and 10 o’clock (Thanksgiving night),” an employee who gave his name as Danny said. “It was really crazy then.”
Between Thanksgiving evening and Friday morning, Walmart hosted three sales events, starting with an 8 p.m. sale — two hours earlier than the 2011 kick off to the holiday shopping season. The event was promoted by a 20-page sales circular advertising mainly toys and clothing. The 10 p.m. sale of primarily electronics caused the largest stir, Danny said.
“They had TVs and computers, that sort of thing,” he said.
The 5 a.m. sale offered a variety of merchandise, advertised in a 16-page circular, but apart from a trio of flat-screen TVs and some sporting goods, shoppers’ response was less enthusiastic.
“It kind of fizzled out,” Danny said. “All the good stuff went last night. But there was a line down the aisle for the TVs. They went fast.”
Samir Serbia-Marte and his friend Gregg Stubberfield hopefully inquired at the electronics counter about iPads, but weren’t surprised to learn they had sold out during the 10 p.m. sale. The friends accepted sales circulars from an electronics department clerk and paused to peruse it. Stubberfield had already made his selection, however.
“I came here specifically for headphones and nothing else,” he said, indicating the headphones in his shopping basket.
Crestview resident Maria Lopez shopped for a few things before heading to work Friday morning, but said she had already done most of her Christmas shopping. She said she leafed through the circulars in her newspaper, but nothing excited her.
“I guess I would’ve liked one of the TVs but I’m not going to leave spending time with my family on Thanksgiving to wait in a line for hours,” Lopez said. “That’s just crazy.”
Friday morning, David Labrake, one of the Crestview Walmart’s assistant managers, said while turnout was good for the evening sales, “We have a lot of merchandise left. It was more of an 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. focus, weaker on the 5 a.m. today.”
Labrake wasn’t sure if the slower sales Black Friday morning meant the shopping public was spending less this year, or just not starting its traditional Christmas shopping season as early.
“It’s hard to say. We had a very good Thanksgiving this year,” Labrake said. “This might be another Christmas — we’d have them in the past — where they hang onto their money then two weeks before Christmas they go hog wild.”