DAVIDSON – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer the only post-Thanksgiving days for businesses hoping to boost sales.
Nov. 30 will serve as Small Business Saturday this year, and towns across the lake are supporting the cause. Small Business Saturday debuted in the U.S. in 2010, when American Express sponsored its first campaign.
Kim Atkins, the executive director of the Mooresville Downtown Commission, said Small Business Saturday has grown since its inception. It’s possible that it could become more of a catalyst for small businesses in the future.
“Black Friday wasn’t heard of (at some point),” Atkins said. “We promote the day and the awareness of small businesses as a whole.”
Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target joined forces with malls to provide sales on Black Friday, which increase their customer base, even if it’s temporary.
Where does that leave small businesses that are fighting to stay alive? It’s no secret that they have more work to do now than 20 years ago, with the Internet attracting more customers to larger businesses.
“Hopefully, after a little bit with the economic change, people are aware of the positive impact of shopping at a local business,” Atkins said.
Sixty cents of every dollar spent at a small business, Atkins added, is invested back into the community, while only $0.06 per dollar spent at a big-box retailer – according to the Small Business Administration – is funneled back into the local economy.
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce President Bill Russell said he expects post-holiday shopping to continue to become bigger as time goes on.
“Anything you can do to get the word out certainly helps (small businesses),” he said. “Small Business Saturday is a continuation of sales that people know aren’t going to stop after just one day.”
What drives sales in the Lake Norman area, he added, is real estate.
“The whole economy is tied to it,” Russell said. “When real estate is successful, retail sales are successful.”
Atkins said small businesses’ upper hand over big-box retailers in the sense of channeling money locally is an important asset to the community.
“The difference is they’re buying local things and hiring a local CPA,” she said. “I’ve heard some businesses talk about being busy leading up to the holidays. It relates to the awareness they can have. They feel like they’re getting busier and people are open to going there.”
The number of people shopping in the days following Thanksgiving continues to grow nationally. The National Retail Federation reported 139.4 million adults took part in post-Thanksgiving shopping for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. They spent an average of $423 per person, a $25 increase from 2011.
Russell believes holiday shopping will continue to trend upward in the future.
“There’s going to be more things to get people out into stores,” he said.
The more people who go out looking to buy things, the better chance small businesses have of increasing sales, Atkins said.
“It’s an ongoing evolution. People understand where they’re spending their money,” she said. “Most large retailers have the same type of things. If you’re looking for something a little different than that, small businesses are an option.”