Early holiday promotions, the continued growth of online shopping, and an improving economy changed the way millions of people approached the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics, 55.1 percent of holiday shoppers were in stores or online over Thanksgiving weekend, down from 58.7 percent last year. Overall shopper traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, Nov. 30 dropped 5.2 percent from 2013 (133.7 million unique holiday shoppers versus 141.1 million in 2013). Total shopping, including multiple trips by the same shopper, was also down this weekend (233.3 million versus 248.6 million). This is the 11th survey NRF has released in partnership with Prosper.
Locally, small business owners like Gail Hawkins, Aminah Muhammad, and Jackie Ryan did not necessarily take advantage of the move by consumers to shop more online, but they definitely did utilize social media to get customers into their doors. And the three retailers are cautiously optimistic about how the season is beginning to look.
“There were definitely more shoppers this year than last,” said Hawkins of Cultural Interiors, who estimates that her traffic was up by 30 percent and notes that they also spent more this year than in 2013.
Hawkins credits her increased traffic to sending out more marketing via social media and intends to keep up the effort. Additionally, she will make her store a destination location by holding events each Saturday until Christmas. On Dec. 6, Felecia Hodges, will discuss her wine-making journey during a wine tasting from 5-8 p.m. The following weekend, Dec. 13, the store will hold its annual holiday open house blow out.
Cultural Interiors is a seven-year-old home goods store in the Pico-Hauser community.
Muhammad found that despite the fact that Kwanzaa and Black History are really the better shopping days for the Leimert Park business—Crescent Books, Videos and More—that she manages for her son Faheem, this first shopping weekend of the season found her catering to more first-time shoppers. She attributes that, in part, to all the twitter and Instagram posts she put out as well as the calls she made to customers. She also thinks that a campaign to “Black Out” Black Friday and urge consumers to shop at small Black-owned retailers helped her cause as well.
Like Cultural Interiors, Muhammad intends to have a number of events to pull in shoppers including a book signing Dec. 27 from 2-5 p.m. with author Rita Muhammad, who helped set up schools in Africa and taught in Japan.
Another Leimert Park retailer, Zambezi Bazaar, will host a grand opening for its new location at 3347 W. 43rd St. this Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with live music, libations and food. But the goal says owner Jackie Ryan is shopping. She attributes the fantastic start of her holiday shopping season to the activities of her new marketing manager who made sure the store was present on social media outlets.
And, like the other local businesses, her customers came into the store rather than shopped online. Ryan, too, is planning shopping events on Dec. 12, 13 and 14 as well as a Kwanzaa activity to entice customers to explore the merchandise she has to offer.