NEWS BLOG (WSAU) I remember when my aunt would take me window shopping in Manhattan during Christmastime. Tiffany & Company would always have one of the best store windows. People passing on the street would stop and look at their displays of jewelry.
One year we went inside. The jeweler wore a tuxedo and white gloves. Everything about the store was creating the right environment.
The Bonwit Teller department store had a man playing a grand piano just inside their front door. Toy store FAO Schwartz had a doorman dressed up as a London toy soldier. The Sharper Image had workers in every department showing off how the various gadgets on the shelves worked.
Granted, none of these retailers compete on price. There were still meticulous about the shopping experience inside their stores.
Even in a low-cost retail environment, management knows that the shopping environment matters. If there’s a long line at the grocery store, we expect other checkout stands to be opened. Stores spend countless hours and marketing dollars on shelf placement, lighting, mirrors, background music and in-store displays. They know the environment we’re in impacts how we shop.
I continue to be amazed at how all that effort to control the consumer experience goes out the window on Black Friday. There’s nothing positive about a shopping experience where customers wait for hours in a cold parking lot before the doors open… or are encouraged to rush into a store and scramble for limited supplies of deep-discounted merchandise. And that assumes no one is trampled and no fist-fights break out. The idea of shopping as a combat sport should be repulsive to consumers and to the store-marketers.
I think retailers that encourage Black Friday scrambling are ultimately hurting themselves. When the shopping experience turns negative, would-be buyers like me will avoid the stores altogether and shop at our keyboards.