Black Friday: America Shops

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Black Friday could signal the return of the American consumer to shopping. Both in brick and mortar stores and in cyberspace, people were back, both to browse and to buy, reports The Wall Street Journal.

What's important here -- much more important than how much they spend -- is that there is every sign that American consumerism is not dead. The habit of shopping could be re-learned easily, just like getting back on a bicycle.

But consumers are shopping differently. The brutal downturn plus discounting services like Groupon taught buyers that there is no longer one fixed price. Just about everything is negotiable. Retailers got the message. The discounting has been steep. At Kohl's, for example, earrings were marked down from $400 to $70 and discounting gimmicks were all over the stores. For instance, notes The Wall Street Journal, Best Buy offered "door buster" specials such as a Toshiba Blueray player for only $59 and Gap Inc. slashed everything 50 percent on Black Friday until 10AM.

In this way, retailers got to combine the seduction of very low prices with the game of having to be there at a certain time to get them. Some stores, like Target, opened at 4AM. Likely, since it's working so well, the tactics will become standard.

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