We happened to be in the US on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is followed by Black Friday. Maybe you already know the name. Amazon has Black Friday and the day in general seems to come to Germany. But in the US, this is definitely very different than anything in Germany: much more crazy, much cheaper and much more incredible.
Black Friday in the USA
Black Friday is the first Friday after Thanksgiving, the 4th Friday in November. Ads about Black Friday offers on the TV, in newspapers, basically everywhere. Everyone has a Black Friday discount.
On Friday morning Americans rush and storm into the stores. The Black Friday offers are usually very good: many discounts and really cheap.
On Friday morning we were still in Bryce Canyon, and we were planning to drive to Las Vegas that day which takes about 4 hours. We decided to stick to our original plan and not to rush. We took a scenic route and the first town we reached was Cedar City in Utah. There are only a few stores there, but all of them had discounts and special offers, not only for selected pieces but for the entire store.
Black Friday at Wal-Mart
A bit later, we stopped at a big Wal-Mart to see what’s going on there. Wal-Marts are usually somewhere close to the street and that is how we found one somewhere between Cedar City and Las Vegas. That was when we saw the real Black Friday! It was already afternoon when we were there. The store wasn’t that busy, it was just a bit full. But we did get to see the mess that was left from the morning. Signs about sold-out offers were everywhere (in particular electronics, mostly TVs). That would not have been our thing anyways; buying a TV in your holiday is pointless. But we did get to see the discount prices and have to admit: these things were really cheap, much cheaper than usually.
Many Wal-Mart offers were still available. We bought clothes, sporting goods, Blu-Rays and toys. The store was a big mess. The salesladies were trying to organize this mess a bit but looked really tense and stressed. A customer asked a lady how the morning was; the answer was “good, we’re still alive.” I definitely believe that, considering that battlefield in the store.
Black Friday in Las Vegas and Black Friday Weekend
We continued our route to Las Vegas. Las Vegas has all its famous shopping malls and outlet centers (see Outlet Shopping Las Vegas). We drove right past an outlet mall on the way to the hotel. So we thought we can give it a try. But it was impossible to find parking. Some parking areas were already closed; anything that was still open was overcrowded. And endless number of cars was driving in circles, so did we. Most of the time we had to stop and wait. That was worse than the day before Christmas in Germany. We gave up and thought Black Friday is over for us.
All the shopping malls had signs about a “Black Friday Weekend”. Many stores, mostly in bigger shopping malls, have their discounts all weekend. They were having problems on Black Friday because people lost their mind and manners that morning and totally freaked out. That is why they extend Black Friday to an entire weekend.
For usm it was the opportunity we needed. We came back the following morning and had no problems at all. When we left in the afternoon, people we already waiting in lines in front of the stores and were only allowed to enter when someone else left.
Of course, on Friday Afternoon or Saturday/Sunday, some offers might be sold out. To me, what I found was enough. I would not have wanted to buy more. I did find a lot; everything was cheap, way cheaper than usually. I did get some good bargains and was totally happy. Everyone in my travel group felt the same way.
Some Advice on Black Friday in the US
If you happen to be in the US on Black Friday, do some shopping. If you feel like throwing yourself into that big Friday-morning-chaos or if you prefer to wait until the afternoon or the following day is totally up to you.
You cannot compare a German Black Friday to a US Black Friday. What we have here in Germany is basically nothing. Only some items are on sale and offers are not valid for everything. That does not happen in the US. There, it’s an iconic day and absolutely incredible and beyond words.
We happened to be there by accident. Plus, we were in Las Vegas for the weekend. What a coincidence! Everyone, even our non-shoppers were thrilled having done that.