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.
As much of a frenzy as Black Friday will be, there is an even bigger frenzy going on in the credit card world, and investors stand to make more money than the retailers raking it in this Friday. You can read about it in The Motley Fool's new special FREE report: "Your credit card may soon be worthless. Here's why." Click here to access it now.