It is Friday 10:30am, I just got back from my shopping trip and these are my impressions. Last night I was speculating the idea of standing in line for one of the early bird specials (or door busters as they call them). Thanks God I didn't go anywhere. This SlickDeals thread describes 200+ people long lines by Best Buy at 10pm last Thursday.
I woke up at 7am today and Best Buy was my first stop. This is absolutely wrong place to be on Friday. The line to check out was stretching like a snake all the way to the back wall of the store. I estimate there were around 500 people in that line. I took a stroll and to even get to the laptops section there were around 50 people waiting. I wasn't going to buy anything so I just snack in and what I saw were usual prices -- just what you see every day. From my conversation with a sales man I learned that the line to get to the store started to form around 6pm the day before.
Circuit City was pretty much the same story. At 8am I didn't find any items on sale and the line to check out was as long as that to buy bread in Soviet times (yeah, I did have chance to stand in those lines). Office Depot and Office Max were more pleasant experience. Both still had some specials on the shelves at 8:30am when I got there and the shoppers didn't stamp on my feet. :-) I left with a few CD/DVD wallets $1.99 each. The 300GB external Maxtor Hard Drive for $99.99 was also very tempting.
My last stop was Staples. They didn't have crowds in the store but all the in-store specials were already claimed (people in line got tickets and had time until 10am to exchanged them for their items). I spoke to a guy at the check out who was paying for a couple of 200GB Maxtor Hard Drives $19.99 after rebate. He said he had to come to the store by 3:30am to get on the deal. From his words to get the $399 Compaq laptop I would have to come by 10pm the night before. As I was leaving around 9:30am another line started to form for a chance to buy the unclaimed in-stores specials. Lines, lines, lines...
My overall impression today is that Black Friday shopping is a big scam. Stores publish very limited quantity hot deals to lure in shoppers and those deals are all sold out instantaneously. If you come at the opening or any time during the day (as most normal people do) you have missed on 90% of them. This is how it works for the stores selling computers and electronics anyway.
Was your Black Friday shopping experience different? Please share it with me in your comments.