How To Navigate Black Friday At Best Buy

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Timothy Otte

I love Black Friday. I don't buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving, but as a student of retail I can't resist the action on the biggest sales day of the year.

And while shoppers suffer temporary insanity at retailers across the country from Target (NYSE: TGT) to JC Penney (NYSE: JCP), there's nowhere the action gets more intense than at Best Buy (NYSE: BBY).

Last week I had the chance to chat with a senior VP from Best Buy's field operations -- they're the people who run the store side of the business -- and hear his views of Black Friday from the trenches of a Best Buy store. His message was clear -- at Best Buy the day is all about bringing the store to life for the customer.

The preparation
For a Best Buy store manager, Black Friday really begins about eight weeks in advance. At that point each store's product layouts will be determined, staff levels are locked in (on average 100 employees per store, including seasonal workers), and details for the one-day sales are finalized.

Two weeks before Black Friday the stores hold a special weekend sale for Reward Zone customers, sort of a dry run to iron out the kinks and generate excitement among frequent customers. By this time the seasonal employees are hired, and everyone is cross-trained to handle many departments, using wireless headsets to pounce on service bottlenecks.