With Thanksgiving Day in the rearview mirror, the shopping frenzy is about to begin—at least that’s what retailers are cautiously expecting this holiday season.
According to a survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), up to 138 million people plan to brave the crowds to shop on Black Friday weekend (the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving Day). That’s an increase of more than 4 million shoppers compared to last year.
This is great news for retailers who have struggled to survive the economic recession that began in 2008. Burke Brennan, vice president of the Tucker Business Association, said business has been good this year for Tucker’s retailers, compared to 2008 and 2009. And high-end retailers, such as jewelry shops, have reported great sales figures.
“So, with this modest upswing, they’re cautiously optimistic about this holiday shopping season,” he said.
Brennan added that he expects Northlake Mall to do well, benefiting from the modest economic turnaround, its location and easy access for drivers.
Retailers in Decatur’s business district are also optimistic. According to Scott Drake, Decatur Business Association president, the signs have been positive in 2010. While some retailers have gone out of business in Decatur, others have quickly taken their place or expanded their business, Drake observed. “I think the economy has reached a plateau, and things are inching back up,” he said.
“We’re hoping that holiday shopping will be brisk,” Drake added.
Several of Decatur’s restaurants have gotten great press reviews, which Drake hopes will bring diners downtown who will decide also to go shopping—where Drake said they could expect to find “a mix of retailers and just about everything they’re looking for.”
Many of these businesses continue to support the Decatur community, Drake said. “My hope is that people will look toward local businesses to help them out,” he added.
In addition to signs of economic recovery, experts point to the use of cyberspace tools to encourage shoppers to open their pocketbooks. According to Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, “The rules for Black Friday have changed significantly.” He said savvy retailers have been using social media and their Web sites “to create a buzz or tease” shoppers about great Black Friday deals for weeks. This will likely benefit the large retail chains scattered throughout DeKalb.
More than half of the nation’s retailers have been sending e-mails to customers about their Black Friday deals, according to NRF. Retailers are also leveraging the Internet’s other tools About 40 percent are using Facebook, 31 percent are using their own Web site and 22 percent are using Twitter to announce and promote Black Friday deals.
Black Friday shopping tips
• Use the Internet to check and compare prices and products before heading to the stores.
• Be vigilant about searching for holiday promotions in newspapers and online. Not only will you save time by researching ahead of time, you’ll also save money on gas by not driving all over town.
• Know retailers’ return and exchange policies. Return policies vary, so knowing ahead of time whether or not you will have to ship back returns or exchanges or if you can return them to the physical store in your area will help in the long run.
• When parking in a large lot, make sure to keep all items in the trunk of the car and out of sight for security. It also helps to park near a light if you know it will be dark by the time you return to your vehicle.
Source: National Retail Federation