With gift buyers pouring into retail stores across the country on Friday to kick off the Holiday shopping season, initial reports appear to be strong.
The retail industry, benefiting from the busiest buying time of the year, calls the launch 'Black Friday' because it's the time when profit is supposedly assured, with companies going into the black.
After months of preparation, setting up ad campaigns and store strategies, retailers' will need to now manage the traffic crush well.
One example is Circuit City's new Mid-town Manhattan concept store dubbed 'The City,' which is designed to give customers a more easy-to-navigate display floor, with lots of opportunities for hands-on product tryouts, and an enhanced focus on service.
On Friday afternoon, the two-floor, 20,000 sq ft. Fifth Avenue store, which just opened last week next door to rival Best Buy was packed, with plenty customers and employees milling about.
We're very pleased with the response so far. We're really excited, Brian Leach, a Regional Vice President at 'The City' said. With the store's fast pace, among his store's top priorities will be keeping the intensity high for providing customer service, having lots of registers open, and keeping shelves fully stocked.
The following are some excerpts of the comments he gave to International Business Times.
Q: It's the first day after Thanksgiving. There are lots of sales and events taking place. What time did you open the store today?
A: We opened at five so we were here very early this morning. There were very long lines and lots of eager customers to get in so we were very excited.
Q: How many people were outside waiting?
A: I think there were hundreds. We had a line all the way down to Madison Avenue. So it was a pretty good group of people out here.
Q: Did you get an idea of what they were expecting to find?
A: We had a great ad with lots of laptops, camcorders, mp3 players, and gaming. They were here for all of that stuff. We had some amazing deals on televisions this morning and everything was just flying off the shelves. It's still busy.
Q: Regarding the layout of the store. Did you change anything today to make it attractive for the customers?
A: We did a lot to try to improve our flow, to make sure we have plenty of checkouts open. You'll see a lot more coordination with line management to make sure we are able to get people in and out much faster.
Q: What are the most popular items going out right now?
A: Flat panel televisions are a very big deal this year. We had a lot of good sales on flat panels this morning. Laptop computers are another really big item and of course, gaming - the Wii, Xbox and the new Rock Band (game) that's out now. All of that is really popular these days for gifts, which is good.
Q: Has there been anything you've learned throughout the day that will take you into the weekend to improve the sales and better help the customers?
A: I just want to keep up our intensity level in the service to make sure we're helping guests find what they want, and make sure we keep our shelves very stocked. Things are moving very very fast right now and we really want to keep the flow moving. We're getting a lot of great feedback from guests in the store on how much it's easy to shop. I think that we want to be able to maintain that through the weekend. It'll be a long weekend, lots of big sales still coming.