• Local Retailers had a Good Black Friday Weekend Despite Nationwide Flop

    By S. Birch

    Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all teamed together this year to create the greatest “Blac-All-Ber” holiday shopping event ever. Well, that was the hope anyway. In truth, the nationwide numbers report that there was only a 2.3 percent rise in sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Sadly, this is exactly what was predicted and equates to the weakest holiday shopping results since 2009.

    So what exactly caused the weak numbers? There were many factors that contributed but one of the most pronounced was the unprecedented opening on Thanksgiving Thursday. Instead of shoppers rushing out the door in the wee hours of the morning on Friday and standing with their little frozen faces pressed against the glass of the front doors like a scene out of “A Christmas Story,” customers loafed into the stores after filling their bellies with too much of a good thing.

    As a result, there was no rush of adrenaline, or customers for that matter, on Black Friday itself. Most people were able to go shopping for that long expected and highly sought after bauble at the exact same time of day that they would have a week prior to Thanksgiving. There was no need to rush into the stores; no need to rise at what I have been assured is something called 4 AM. As you can imagine, Black Friday sales were down 13.2 percent from last year.

    With that lack of rush to get to the stores, so too was there a lack of rush to get out that golden piece of plastic and shout the ever popular shoppers mantra, “Charge It!” Cash was doled out at a more controlled and carefully considered pace. Checks, for those who still have them, stayed unpenned and uncashed.

    What we have then is a failure to consumerate. All in all, people shopped at national retailers only slightly up from last year.

    While we can see that a 2.3 percent increase in spending is nothing to jump up and down about, there is a touch of good news when it comes to our own local retailers. Several were interviewed about how they fared the rush of shoppers during the same time period.

    It seems that there was no great love of opening on Thanksgiving Thursday. In fact, not one retailer we talked to locally opened on Thursday. Most even scoffed in displeasure at the mere question. However they were well prepared for the traditional first day of the Christmas season. The hallowed Black Friday.

    Adrianne Jonson of Artisana Gallery reported that even though she had only been open in her new Lighthouse Avenue location for about eight months, this year was very kind to her charming shop. Her offerings of hand-made jewelry, paintings, and local art were on sale for many of the 200+ that purchased from her on Friday. She even offered an additional discount to those that brought a food item to help fill the Monterey County Food Bank barrel in her store. The discount may be over, but the barrel is still waiting for donations.

    Marcia Stearns of the Bookmark on Forest Avenue was equally pleased with the sales this Black Friday. But even more so, she praises shoppers for bringing their dollars to the local shops on Small Business Saturday. She describes the sales of that day as “very successful”. Who would doubt it — it turns out that the Bookmark was one of the many shops that partnered with American Express to promote the efforts of small business owners to appeal to the local customer base. In fact, they were a supply point for all those “Small Business Saturday” banners and welcome mats that greeted many shoppers.

    American Express was offering a discount to customers for their first purchase of the day at the select retailer they chose. On top of that, many local shops offered their own promotions to bring in the customers. The Bookmark was promoting a free drawing with giveaways, Artisana Gallery had a complimentary breakfast. But no matter what was offered to the customers, it was clear that the spirit of small town shopping was alive and well in Pacific Grove.

    There was still the continued pull of shopping online. In fact, online sales rose 20 percent on Thanksgiving Day and 19 percent on Black Friday. Even Target reported that it took in double the number of orders as it did last year. Not surprisingly, Amazon was able to boost its own sales in a way that our local retailers can’t. The online giant offered discounts on many of its products on a rotating schedule that was as frequent as every t10 minutes.

    It is not likely that the big national retailers will try to open on Thanksgiving Day again next year. But who knows, crazier things have happened. No matter what happens out there in retail land remember that there is a plethora of dedicated retailers right here in Pacific Grove. There is no need to be pressed against the front door of the Big Box Store gasping for air, fighting off the crazy lady who wants the last $10 toaster, defending yourself against the unwashed masses of the shopping universe, or standing in a line in the cold of pre-sun morning, in order to get in a line for the latest hoopla, only to find you were in the wrong line the whole time, and then make our way through the checkout line, finding yourself in a line to get out of the parking lot… all of which will only have you questioning your sanity, and true motivations, as you repeatedly bang your head on the steering wheel.

    Next year, when you think about how you want to spend your day after Thanksgiving, you can do the same thing that you always regret or you can remember that your local retailers are always there to help you out with truly unique and local offerings. You may not get a $10 toaster, or a black eye for that matter, but you will end up with a much calmer day, something not mass produced, and maybe a muffin too.


    posted to Cedar Street Times on December 20, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News


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