Hundreds of people lined up in 38-degree weather Friday morning for deals at the Centerville Cabela’s, but across the Miami Valley roadways were clear and parking lots had plenty of spaces for most of the day.
More than 114 million people were expected to shop in the U.S. Friday, both online and in store. While that’s nearly triple the number of shoppers who were expected to look for deals Thursday, it’s a drop of nearly 2 million from last year.
“I’m surprised it’s not more crowded,” said Debbie Murphy of Columbus, who was visiting her sister for their annual shopping trip in the Miami Valley.
Murphy and her daughter KK Murphy, along with sister and niece were among the few people shopping at the Centerville Kohl’s around 6:30 a.m. Friday. Kohl’s opened Thursday, along with many other major retailers like Walmart, Target, Meijer, Macy’s and JCPenney who years ago wouldn’t have opened until the early morning hours Friday.
Shoppers were also able to grab the Black Friday deals early online at many stores that launched e-commerce sales with prices that matched doorbusters earlier this week.
“Thanksgiving is so much closer to Christmas, people have gotten it taken care of already,” said Christy Willet, who was out early Friday morning Black Friday shopping at Lowe’s with her sister Beth Moore, both of Centerville.
The pair go Black Friday shopping every year. They started Thanksgiving evening with Willet’s children and then started again around 6 a.m. Friday on their own. While it used to be for the deals, now it’s for the tradition, Moore said.
“A year that we’ve missed Black Friday we’re sad about it,” she said. “It’s just fun to be out and about this early in the morning with my sister.”
But some shoppers like Christian Highfield of Springfield are in it for the deals. Highfield was one of the first people in a building-wrapping line at Cabela’s when it opened at 5 a.m.
Highland was looking for a deal on a fish finder.
Lines were also long at Menards stores in the Miami Valley, and some early morning shoppers went to Lowe’s and Home Depot for deals on Christmas trees, lawn equipment and poinsettias.
Following two straight days with the emphasis on shopping huge deals at major national chains, millions are expected to shop again today, many of which will head to local, small businesses.
“It’s huge. That just shows that people want to support you and not just on a regular day, or go out to the big business,” said Amanda Hensler, co-owner of Heart Mercantile in the Oregon District.“It’s been a really tough summer obviously with all the things that have happened, so it would be really awesome to see everybody come down here and support local.”
Among the 66.6 million Small Business Saturday shoppers will be Lindsey Albright of Englewood who was shopping at Heart Mercantile earlier this week.
“We have a handful of small boutiques that are women-owned in Englewood,” she said. “They don’t always survive and thrive if you don’t support them.”
Laura Zeller of Beavercreek will also shop small businesses in the Oregon District and Yellow Springs today, she said.
“It’s places I usually go off and on throughout the year. It’s just making a point of doing it on that day too,” Zeller said.
Small businesses in the Oregon District, Oakwood and other parts of the Miami Valley expect increased traffic and sales today compared to many other days this year. Heart Mercantile and its sister store Beck and Call will both have treats and pop-up shops if weather permits, along with Heart Mercantile offering a free tote to anyone that spends more than $100 today, Hensler said.
Heart has also extended its hours to give shoppers more time to shop, staying open until 10 p.m. tonight and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the holiday season.
“When you look at the past year that we have been through, it has been evident … our community is truly Dayton strong,” said Chris Kershner, executive vice president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. “Supporting our neighbors, our friends and our local businesses is in our DNA as a community. We are confident that this local support will continue to be paramount through the holiday shopping season.”
Supporting small businesses helps keep local dollars local, Kershner said. The owners and employees that benefit from the increased sales or area residents’ family and friends, who will in turn spend more money locally, sponsor children’s activities and donate to local nonprofits, Kershner said.
“That economic impact goes a long way because those individuals are part of our community, they’re buying homes in our community, they’re shopping themselves in our community…your dollar goes a lot farther than just purchasing the item you want,” he said.
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