My Totally Unscientific Look at Who Won Black Friday in NYC

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Started the day at Macy’s (their windows are really fun btw) and then walked up 5th Avenue to Saks and the Rockefeller Center stores. I encountered LOTS of tourists, very few shopping bags, and a few surprises e.g. huge line at Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue for none other than Sarah McLaughlin.

Winners:

Macy’s at 34th Street: Judging by the number of gigantic shopping bags, Macy’s had a very successful start of the season. One woman’s bag was bigger than her body – I swear.

Sephora at 5th Avenue: Jampacked, so much so that I couldn’t even get inside to check out what special promotions they were running.

Lego: gigantic line of shoppers all the way around the block at the Rockefeller Center store BUT then came the announcement that the credit card system had crashed and only cash purchases could be made. While there were some sounds of disappointment, surprisingly few people got off the line…..

Most frequently seen shopping bags: Besides Macy’s, Pink, Uniqlo, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Zara

Read on below for Black Friday losers, other miscellaneous observations and photos of the day.

Retail Losers:

Most stores did not appear to be very busy and I saw remarkably few shopping bags, but one store appeared to be having an especially hard time:

Urban Outfitters: Huge protest for workers’ rights at the entrance to the Herald Square store – I did manage to get inside but it was virtually empty. Likewise, the 5th Avenue store looked empty although there were no protests there. However, I also found their promotional signage for Black Friday sales very unappealing. Not at all festive (rather grim in fact) while the promotion itself to buy one, get one free for your friend, made little sense. Who wants to have the exact same coat, dress etc. that your friend has??

5th Avenue Loses Its Allure: The lower reaches of 5th Avenue (below 50th street) have definitely seen better days. With few exceptions, the avenue is now filled with fast casual (e.g. Potbelly), tacky souvenir shops, drug stores, street vendors and empty storefronts (16% are empty at the moment but the vacancy rate is close to 30% in the 40’s ).

Additional observations:

There was very little car traffic in NYC on Friday: I rode Citibike uptown to Macy’s and then took another Citibike back downtown and the streets were almost empty of cars – very odd right?

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5th Avenue outside of Saks – very little car traffic

Facebook has a pop up to try out their virtual reality products. It’s in Bryant Park by the skating rink. Was not very busy.

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Bryant Park Holiday Market and Skating Rink: Again, stores not very busy and very few shopping bags to be seen. However, the skating rink was jammed and I also noticed that the restaurant (Public Fare) is doing a collaboration with Crate & Barrel which was very interesting.

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The Salvation Army Red Kettle People are super entertaining this year. I noticed in three or four different locations they are really rocking out and the crowds love it and it looked like lots of people were giving (including me!).

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