Retailers prepare for Black Friday shopping


Gap- black friday

Ali Hanson

After the turkey has settled, many Americans partake in Black Friday shopping. The event has become such a hyped phenomenon that stores are choosing to open their doors earlier each year, giving retailers a lot to prepare for.

Ashley Seaton, assistant store manager of the Gap Outlet, said her store will still be marketing to college students over the break, even though many may be home for the week.

“College students will come back to visit home or stay here throughout the holiday,” Seaton said.

Most shoppers aren’t aware that stores do an extensive amount of rearranging just for customer convenience during Black Friday. Seaton said Gap Outlet will specifically rearrange their store front to create a more spacious area, predicting the line at checkout will extend to the doors.

On Black Friday, Seaton said that she and the staff are encouraged to make sure that everyone is really excited for the day and to be really prepared in customer service.

“[It’s] not really anything different than a regular Saturday except we have more sales associates on the floor with more customers in the store,” Seaton said.

Also located in North Grand Mall, the Victoria’s Secret store practices some of the same techniques to run a smooth retail environment on Black Friday.

“Our market is always college for our PINK collection and college and up for the intimates and apparel,” said Sarah Galliart, manager at Victoria’s Secret.

Knowing that their clientele will increase, Victoria’s Secret tends to hire seasonal associates so that the store is more prepared when the Black Friday rush hits.

Following the lead of many other stores, Galliart said the Victoria’s Secret corporate office has decided to attract customers by opening their doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Galliart said the company is known to do a Black Friday tote with a $70 purchase, a fragrance deal, a yoga pant deal and a buy one, get one free bra deal.

The Buckle in Carroll, Iowa, handles Black Friday differently than its competitors.

“With Buckle, we don’t have extra sales, we just move our sales stuff to the front of the store,” said Allie Parsons, store manager and junior in apparel, merchandising and design.

Parsons said because Buckle does not have special sales, employees have to work extra hard to sell the merchandise.

“We’ll sometimes have markdowns the day of or a seasonal markdown but people still come in just because it’s Buckle,” Parsons said.

Parsons said Buckle’s staff is told to be energetic and to not be overwhelmed on Black Friday. The store will be opening their doors at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year.

Amanda McIntyre, store manager at J. Crew in Des Moines, said there are many ways her store prepares for Black Friday.

“Essentially, we start with a diverse and trained staff, having a ton of additional people hired simply for the holiday by mid-November,” McIntyre said.

Along with the staff, J. Crew managers are also trained for Black Friday.

“The managers watch a three to four hour video given by corporate about all the trends, how to answer questions and how to sell products,” McIntyre said.

J. Crew prides themselves on having a loyal clientele, and McIntyre said that they know in advance that most of the people that will wander into their store on Black Friday will not make significant purchases.

“Our approach during the holiday is different,” McIntyre said. “We change our visual merchandising strategy and will put together an outwear section rather than outfit pairs.”

This method allows the rushed customers to easily find what they’re looking for and not be flustered by the pre-picked ensembles.

The store is choosing to open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. McIntyre said this decision was made so J. Crew can cater to the brand’s regular clients while also catering to clients who are looking to shop on Black Friday, as there is an increase of 60 percent in traffic for the day.

J. Crew also sets up a gifting table by its cash register for customer convenience on Black Friday.

Being the only J. Crew store in Iowa, McIntyre said the location at Jordan Creek Town Center already has an upper hand in driving traffic into their store, but she reminds her employees that interaction is very memorable. 

“Retail in the holidays is one of the most stressful things in the world,” McIntyre said. “You have to remember the customer is human too.”