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Are you prepared for the coming shopping boon?

Following Thanksgiving come Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

The three days after Thanksgiving are a shopping boon for retailers of all sizes. This is the longest commercial weekend of the year. Shopping for the upcoming Christmas season will be officially starting. Sales and bargains for shoppers will be offered to lure consumers to stores large and small for in-store purchases followed by online sales. Endless advertising, peer pressure, social media posts will flood the airwaves, TV, newspapers and internet.

Black Friday 

It actually now begins on the afternoon of Thanksgiving with many stores opening earlier each year on this date to capture the enthusiastic consumers wanting to get a head start on their holiday shopping. There will be heavy traffic, long lines at check out, maxed out credit cards, brawls in stores fighting over loss leaders of big-ticket items and shopper frustration. 

The retail federation reports that the number of shoppers is on the decrease over the past few years on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day even though the number of stores opening earlier is on the increase. They are either spending more time with their families or holding off for local and online shopping.

Small Business Saturday 

American Express introduced the concept of the shopping emphasis for small local businesses in 2010. Last year 112 million consumers spent $15.4 million at such businesses as reported by American Express. Small businesses can capitalize on making sales this day to consumers by offering deals to attract shoppers. More use social media to get the word out about early openings, late closings, special deals, promotions, open houses, refreshments, etc. to capture the consumers’ attention and lure them into their stores. Some of the advantages small businesses have over the big box stores is personalized and friendly service, gift wrapping, easy exchanges, and more.

Cyber Monday 

This has become the busiest day of the year for online shopping. It is expected that sales will jump to $3.5 billion from $3.12 billion last year, according to ConScore, which studies audience and marketing data. ECommerce deals are usually abundant from online retailers. Many offer free shipping to attract customer buying online instead of in store shopping.

Giving Tuesday 

Donations of money and time on this day kick off the charitable season. Many people focus on year-end giving for tax deductions. It is a great way to contribute to your community and fulfill the desire to gift someone who has everything. There are many ways to get involved and support your community or favorite charity.

Are you prepared for Thanksgiving and the shopping frenzy that follows? Surveys point to a very busy holiday season. The National Retail Federation reports that consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year. Holiday sales are expected to grow between 3.6 and four percent over the past year. E-commerce sales are expected to increase by 16.6 percent during the 2017 holiday season.

Many retailers are hiring extra temporary, holiday workers as they prepare for the increase in sales. Some stores will experience 30 percent or more of annual sales during these last few weeks of the year. The role of the retail “brick and mortar” stores are anticipated to remain a crucial part of the holiday shopping journey.

Retailers who exploit the multi-channel path to win the hearts of consumers and share of wallets will be successful as long as they continue to offer good service, brand names, competitive price-points, customer satisfaction and other complementary services. Many shoppers still enjoy the in-store experience, as it remains one of the strongest drives for purchasing.

Happy shopping and happy Thanksgiving.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.