I did it. For the first time in my life, I went into the stores when the doorbusters became available. And let me tell you what I saw.
I was in Wal-Mart at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night when the first of three waves of sales started. It was fascinating. Now, I'm not one to get up early for deals, so this was all new to me!
While there were incidents at some stores elsewhere, people were overwhelmingly in a festive mood at the 2 Wal-Marts and one Target I visited. I saw no hint of fisticuffs.
In Wal-Mart, people were lined up by screen size for the larger TVs they wanted to purchase. People were in lawn chairs waiting for the 60-inch TVs in a line that must have been 125 yards long. I went a third of the way back and asked people, 'How long you been here?' Four hours. 'How do you know you'll get TV?' I don't. 'What if you don't get a TV after waiting?' I got blank stares on that one. (Some popular TV models were only guaranteed in quantities of 35 per store.)
The iPads were off in a different part of the store. That line ran from the pharmacy to the pet section. The deal on the iPad was anybody in line at 10 p.m. was guaranteed of getting one at $75 off the normal price.
Meanwhile, in the Target store, the line to get to the checkout went three quarters of the way around the store! I've never seen anything like that before in my life.
The National Retail Federation says the average person spent $423 from Thursday through Sunday. Overall, we spent just under $60 billion as a nation -- not including Cyber Monday.
People seemed willing to part with their dough. About 60% of the people I spoke to said they did less than a quarter to none of their Christmas shopping during the Black Friday weekend. This was people buying things they wanted for themselves -- not for others!