A Millennial’s Black Friday Shopping Retail Experience

We recently spoke with a millennial consumer who went Black Friday shopping in Canada this year.

Nicole, a 29-year-old woman from Ontario, went to multiple stores on Friday, November 29, 2019, and Saturday, November 30, 2019. Here’s what she had to say about her retail experience.

Marketsupport Canada: First of all, what made you decide to go out Black Friday shopping this year, Nicole?

Nicole: I have actually gone Black Friday shopping for a few years now. The first year I went was a total accident! I didn’t realize it was Black Friday (it wasn’t as big of an event in Canada then) until I was in the store and seeing discounts.

Since then, I have tried to go out early on Black Friday when I can take it off work. My mom (who is in her early 60s) and I normally shop together. This year, she asked if I wanted to go out together, so I said yes!

I like to use Black Friday as a chance to start (and in some cases finish) my Christmas shopping. In my household, I’m responsible for buying all the presents for my mom and my boyfriend (about eight-to-ten gifts each, plus stocking stuffers). I also get one-to-two presents for about 11 other family members.

Marketsupport Canada: Do you normally shop online or in-store?

Nicole: I am a little behind-the-times in that I usually shop in-store! I prefer seeing things, trying on clothes in person, and making the little discoveries that you can only make when browsing shelves. I still find it hard to buy stocking stuffers or just browse through new items online.

That said, I do buy some things online (and did some Cyber Monday shopping this year, too). But I normally shop online mostly when a) it’s an online exclusive or I can’t make it to the store, b) I can get better deals online than I can in-store, or c) I know exactly what I want and that it’s the best price.

Marketsupport Canada: What was the best experience you had in-store while Black Friday shopping?

Nicole: There were a few! My mom and I went to a lot of stores and we split up for some of the time since we were buying presents for each other.

We started at our closest large shopping mall. One store that I found a lot of items in was a pop-up shop. A few businesses from the downtown decided to get together and rent a storefront for the holidays. This was great because I don’t always make it downtown for shopping (I tend to go to the mall or a specific store). I ended up spending a lot there and would now go out of my way to return to that store, even at its downtown location.

I also had a really good experience in a popular bookstore. I am a big reader, and my mom is too, but I am really loving how this one store has expanded its product line to include knickknacks, home goods, games, and lots of unique items. I actually didn’t even find any books there, but I ended up crossing a few family members off my shopping list just from the other products.

But what made this shopping experience great was that it happened even though there was a huge line (it wove through almost the entire store). That made me reluctant to buy anything, but I really wanted what I had in my cart. While I was standing in line, though, a customer service attendant came up and asked if anyone wanted to check out using the wireless pay. Since I was using my debit card, I said yes, and I got to essentially skip the line and pay on the floor!

Marketsupport: Now for the not-so-positive. What were your worst Black Friday shopping experiences?

Nicole: Unfortunately there were a couple of those as well.

For me, the worst one was actually the first store I went to. It made me want to go home and just shop online! I wanted to buy a gift for my mother-in-law at a popular jewelry store. I had about 30 minutes until I was supposed to meet up with my mom. Since this was at 8:30 a.m., and there were only six people ahead of me, I thought I would have plenty of time to get through. Not so…

This retailer is known for creating an exclusive experience but in this case, I found it a little too exclusive. First, I had to stand in line outside the store for about 20 minutes. Luckily one of the attendants came and offered us product catalogues to read, which was nice.

When I finally made it into the store, I had to spend about another 20 minutes waiting for an attendant to help me. I had already picked out what I wanted while standing in line, but they were out of the items I had wanted most! I ended up compromising but, in my head, I was wondering if they were available online…

I then had to wait another 20 minutes to actually pay for my purchase. All-in-all it took me about an hour to get through this store, which was frustrating. I was late meeting my mom. And I’m not sure if it was worth the discount.

My mom had her own bad experience while we were split up. She went into a popular makeup store, but she said none of the attendants spoke to her. She felt like she was too old to be in there and that’s why they weren’t talking to her, so she left without buying anything.

Marketsupport: Is there anything the stores could have done better?

Nicole: I would say this varied by store. The main issue I ran into was that a lot of the stores just felt cramped and crowded (and I went early in the morning when it wasn’t even that busy). I was trying to look at products, but there were too many people in front of me and not enough space to maneuver around the aisles.

In some cases, it was also confusing to know what was on sale. In one store, they had a sign saying that all box sets on a certain shelf were 50% off, but the one that I wanted was full price. Some of the discounts also felt too small — like I wasn’t getting that good of a deal. In these cases, if it wasn’t something I was already planning on buying, I didn’t get it.

Some stores didn’t have product in stock, which was an issue. I went into a shoe store because I needed a new pair of winter boots, but they were out of my size (I’m a common shoe size, too). So, I left and bought them elsewhere, where they did have my size.

The stores that worked the best (in my opinion) had everything on sale – like a Buy One, Get One 50% Off promotion — or one store I went into had every product marked down to $10. I bought a lot from that store that I might not have otherwise. They also had a lot of products in stock and a lot of sizes.

Marketsupport: Would you go out again next year? And after these experiences, would you rather shop online or in-store?

Nicole: I would go out again next year, but there are certain stores I would avoid completely (the jewelry shop for one). If I do want something specifically from there, I’ll be more likely to buy it online, especially if it has the same discount.

I still prefer the in-store experience, especially for Christmas shopping. Sometimes I know what I want to get people in advance, but for a lot of the gifts, I wait and see what I find in-store — particularly for little items like stocking stuffers.

I ended up finishing most of my Christmas shopping this Black Friday, which was a relief! Now I can give my bank account a rest and enjoy the season stress-free.

Thanks to Nicole for sharing her consumer insights! What was your Black Friday retail experience like? Tell us on social media. Marketsupport Canada is on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Marketsupport helps retailers and manufacturers create the best customer experiences for Black Friday, the holiday season, and the rest of the year! Contact us to learn more about our solutions. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit www.storesupport.ca.

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