So, the initial early reports from Friday morning (pre 7am). Observations taken from locations in 4 separate towns in Massachusetts. Please leave your observations in the comments section.
Wal-Mart (WMT): Parking lot filled past capacity well before the 5am opening. Wal-Mart.com also makes them a bug winner today. I was able to pick up some things at the sale prices before I left the house this morning at 4:30am and saved a trip there to shop, enabling me to go to other stores. I used the "site-to -store" program and received free shipping.
Best Buy (BBY): Very impressive. Had its lot and the lot of the strip mall next to it filled and a huge line out front before 5 am opening
Target (TGT): A 6 am opening may have hurt as folks may have went to Best Buy or Wal-Mart for items prior to or instead of going to Target. Still had an impressive wait but an earlier opening probably would have brought in more shoppers. Left sales in the parking lot.
Sears (SHLD): Better that both JC Penny and Macy's but behind Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart. The good news for Sears? The Craftsmen tool and home appliance departments were filled to capacity and then some meaning they were selling high margin items. Sales staff said traffic was, and I quote, "wicked better than last year" (that is good). A 5am opening here helped.
JC Penny (JCP) and Macy's (M): In the same mall as Sears but their parking lots (the three store are spaced one in the middle and the other two are on either end) left much to be desired. Macy's lot would have allowed a shopper to virtually park in front of the doors and JC's was not much better. Not good.
Linens and Things:
Probably would have done better if they opened much later, at least they would have saved some money on labor and electricity. Since I could not see anyone shopping
Borders (BDG) / Barnes and Nobel (BKS): Most of these locations now have coffee shops in them both I passed were closed early. How well could they have done selling coffee to those waiting in line at the other locations? Think they could have lured some in? It was very cold in the Northeast this morning. File this under "opportunity lost"
Mattel (MAT): People were not buying toys probably due to the lead paint issues. Learning and video games were flying off the shelves (good for Leapfrog (LF)).
Microsoft (MSFT): The "Zune" was sold out at most locations and those that still had it where getting top dollar for it (and it was still selling).
Apple (APPL): 8GB iPods were sitting on the shelves but the 4GB were all gone at most locations (nanos). iTouch sales were, again I quote, "not as good as the Zune". It should be noted though that these observation are NOT at Apple stores but other retailers so one cannot commit either way. Mac's were selling "very well".