ILLINOIS (IRN) — Black Friday is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season and over the past decade, small businesses have taken a more active approach to sales over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Independent retailers highlight what they have to offer on Small Business Saturday, which is growing more popular.
Over the past decade, Black Friday shopping has moved from the early morning hours of the Friday after Thanksgiving to the evening hours of the Thanksgiving holiday. For many retailers, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is critical for their bottom line.
Black Friday is important for big-box retailers such as Best Buy, which has 43 stores in Illinois, company spokesman Matthew Smith said. He said fourth-quarter sales account for nearly a third of annual sales.
Best Buy opens at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The rush of shoppers on Black Friday has garnered negative attention, but Smith said the practices Best Buy has instituted have alleviated many of the problems that come with big crowds.
“We’re proud of the fact that for years we’ve had a very organized line system and ticketing system,” Smith said. “So, there is no need to rush when the doors open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving.”
Employees greet customers who line up in the parking lot to hand out tickets for the most sought-after doorbuster deals, which guarantee the item for recipients.
“If they’ve received a ticket, they’re guaranteed to get that doorbuster item,” Smith said. “So there is no need for pushing or shoving or anything like that.”
Big box retailers no longer dominate the shopping weekend. Over the past decade, what had started off as a promotion for the American Express credit card company, has turned into an important day for small businesses. Small Business Saturday gives independent retailers a chance to capture some of the spending.
Downtown Springfield Incorporated Executive Director Lisa Clemmons Stott said Small Business Saturday has created more opportunities for local businesses.
“It was realized that there was a vacuum for local small businesses that they were not being talked about in the biggest gift-buying season of the year, which is the holiday season,” Clemmons Stott said. “So Small Business Saturday was created and main streets like mine all across the country jumped on board, because we see every day the value that small businesses bring to the community.”
Downtown Springfield Incorporated is a non-profit organization that promotes shopping and events in downtown Springfield.
Clemmons Stott said the retail climate has changed considerably over the past decade.
“Businesses have come to rely on this day more and more,” she said. “They rely on the holiday season more and more.”
She pointed out that for a lot of smaller businesses, the revenue from holiday shopping helps them through leaner months such as January, February and March. Downtown Springfield Incorporated not only encourages small business shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but they’ve also made it into an event. Clemmons Stott said Small Business Saturday is the start of the Capital Holiday Walk in downtown Springfield.
“We throw everything holiday at it, at one time,” she said.
“One the things that people should keep in mind, for every dollar spent at a small local business, 67 cents stays in the community,” she said.
Consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,048 during the holiday season, which is up 4 percent over last year, according to statistics published by the National Retail Federation. Overall, holiday spending is expected to be higher this year compared to 2018. The federation projects retail sales in November and December will be up between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over last year, for a total between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.
The National Retail Federation estimates that 165.3 million people will shop in stores and online between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday.