We compared holiday shopping turnout at Walmart and Target on Black Friday.
Toys were major draws at both stores.
Target was far busier with customers flocking to home goods and beauty, while Walmart was slower.
I went to Walmart and Target locations in Rochester, New York to compare how the two major chains are handling Black Friday this year.
Walmart saw supply chain improvements this year after low inventory over the holidays in 2021, Walmart US CEO John Furner said in November earnings.
When I arrived just after 9 a.m. on Black Friday, the Walmart parking lot looked quite bare.
Walking inside, I didn't see very many shoppers, but there was security near the door.
I skipped past the main grocery area, which was empty and didn't seem to have any special holiday deals.
At first glance the clothing sections also seemed pretty empty of customers.
I finally started seeing other shoppers around the children's clothing section.
Bins in the centers of aisles seemed to have some of the most popular deals, advertising "while supplies last."
These were mainly less expensive items than the typical Black Friday electronics deals.
Many of the deals were on bedding, pillows, and other home decor items.
While home goods sales didn't seem to have many takers, the toys section was much busier.
The toy shelves were well-stocked.
The aisles of dolls and stuffed animals weren't especially busy, but they were definitely one of the most trafficked areas of the store.
The busiest area by far was the electronics section.
There were some deals on TVs and video games.
Customers searched through piles of discounted games and DVDs while workers restocked.
Headphones and phone accessories also seemed popular based on the messy displays.
Aside from toys and electronics, I wouldn't have known there was any kind of holiday or promotion going on.
When I walked into Target, it was noticeably busier and there were only a few carts available.
Some shelves near the entrance that usually hold small knickknacks and holiday decor were nearly completely empty when I visited around 10 am.
The women's clothing section was fairly busy, and had partially been turned into a stocking area for workers to unload merchandise.
Everywhere I turned in the clothing sections of the store I felt like I was in someone's way, because it was quite crowded.
Between customers with large shopping carts and employees constantly restocking shelves from carts, it was difficult to navigate.
The home goods and decor sections seemed quite picked over, with many empty shelves.
Beauty and household essentials are two big areas of growth for Target, CEO Brian Cornell told investors on the companies third quarter earnings call.
This definitely played out in my visit, as these were both busy areas of the store.
Pillows, blankets, sheets, and similar items were picked over and in some cases completely gone.
Beauty and personal care were also well-trafficked, with customers seeming to go for gift kits and miniature versions of items.
Toys were the other busiest area I saw during my visit.
Toy sales were down last quarter, Target's Chief Merchandising Officer Christina Hennington said during the same earnings call.
Despite the downward trend, toys will play a "critical role" for Target's holiday season, Hennington said.
After visiting both stores in the same area, it was clear that Target was far busier thank Walmart.
Analysts predicted slow holiday sales growth this year, and neither store was packed.
Toys seemed to be major strengths for both stores, but based on crowds Target was having a better holiday.
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