On Sunday, I hit Tysons Corner Center, not far from Fool HQ, to do a minor pre-Black Friday mall check. My conclusion is that the mall was teeming with "mall stalkers." My theory: These aren't really shoppers; they're stalking, ambling around bagless but not exactly aimless. They're scoping out what discounted items they're going to tear each other limb from limb for at the stroke of midnight that will herald Black Friday.
I got the seriously eerie sense that this was the calm before the Black Friday storm. Here were a few of the things I noticed as I performed a little mall stalking of my own:
Abercrombie & Fitch
There's method to the midnight madness
I wouldn't call my observations exactly scientific or predictive of what's going to go down at these retailers on Black Friday or the holiday season. Like I said, as empty as many of the apparel retailers appeared to be, I suspect many shoppers were simply waiting and watching.
I chatted with a friendly saleswoman in the Lucky jeans store (that brand is owned by Liz Claiborne
Big retailers have caught on to the idea that more shoppers might be raring to go at midnight than at, say, 4 a.m. This year, major retailers like Target, Kohl's
Of course, discounts make up the major impetus for Black Friday consumer feeding frenzies. The fact that retailers are opening earlier nationwide is just one more piece of evidence of just how desperately the retail industry hopes to lure skittish, budget-conscious consumers this year.
It's too early to know which companies will be the big retail winners (or losers) this holiday season. The day of the mall stalkers makes me wonder just how many shoppers are going to play a deadly serious game of chicken with retailers this year.
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Alyce Lomax owns shares of Urban Outfitters. The Motley Fool owns shares of Gap, Wal-Mart Stores, Aeropostale, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft and Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have also recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.