As Black Friday nears, area retailers optimistic for robust crowds

Danielle Goodman, owner of Grace Lane Boutique, left, talks with Nicole Crawford-Walker while she was shopping at the business Thursday Nov. 18, 2021. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Caption
Danielle Goodman, owner of Grace Lane Boutique, left, talks with Nicole Crawford-Walker while she was shopping at the business Thursday Nov. 18, 2021. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Outlook upbeat for industry even with Ohio virus numbers on the rise again.

A crowd turned out for this year’s annual tree lighting at The Greene, which Assistant General Manager Jessica Baer saw as a sign that people are going to turn out for Black Friday at the Beavercreek shopping center.

“We were on the fence, we didn’t know which way it would go, and it went amazing. That’s leaving us to believe that our traffic for Black Friday should resemble that,” she said.

Last year, before the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, people still bought gifts and overall sales were high, but many stayed home from traditional holiday events and switched to online orders.

This year, as Black Friday approaches and holiday shopping gets started, the retail outlook is upbeat for the industry.

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Caption
The holiday shopping season is underway at The Greene. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

The holiday shopping season is underway at The Greene. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Caption
The holiday shopping season is underway at The Greene. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales nationwide during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% compared to 2020, growing to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with a previous high of 8.2% growth in 2020 to $777.3 billion and an average increase of 4.4% over the past five years.

“For a lot of retailers, this is when they get into the black. It’s the time of year that they make money,” said Alex Boehnke, with the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “So the holiday shopping season remains very crucial to the health of the industry. I don’t think that’s any different this year.”

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Many have started shopping early, heeding advice from retailers that have been urging people to plan ahead to account for any supply chain and shipping problems.

The sooner shoppers can get out this year, the better, Boehnke said, noting holiday sales have already started.

“I know every year they seem to start earlier and earlier, but I think this year that’s been especially noticeable, and one of the reasons for that is related to the ongoing supply chain issues,” Boehnke said.

Allie West, marketing manager at The Greene, said overall they have “definitely seen an increase in traffic this holiday season compared to last year during this time.”

About 66% of holiday shoppers surveyed in early November plan to shop Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. That amounts to an estimated 158.3 million people, up from 156.6 million last year but still below the 165.3 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

“Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween,” federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

The Dayton Daily News has previously reported on the sharp competition for seasonal workers this shopping season, as workers gain leverage to pick the job they want, as thousands of year-round jobs remain open, and as hiring competition ramps up.

The National Retail Federation expects retailers will hire between 500,000 and 665,000 seasonal workers. That compares with 486,000 seasonal hires in 2020.

Last year, online shopping grew extraordinarily during the pandemic. The retail group expects this year ecommerce will remain important, but people will shift back to in-store shopping.

The timing and impact of holiday sales season can be different for small versus large retailers, and for brick-and-mortar versus online.

Nationally, about 30.6 million plan to shop either in-store or online on Thanksgiving Day, 108 million on Black Friday, 58.1 million on Small Business Saturday, 31.2 million on Sunday and 62.8 million on Cyber Monday. (The total of the daily numbers exceeds the overall figure because some consumers will shop multiple days.)

Caption
The holiday shopping season is underway at The Greene. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

The holiday shopping season is underway at The Greene. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Caption
The holiday shopping season is underway at The Greene. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

The coronavirus pandemic still means some unpredictability for the holiday shopping season. After weeks of decreasing, hospitalizations and ICU admissions from COVID-19 are going back up in Ohio. Health experts have urged people to take precautions like getting vaccinated and masking in public indoor spaces. Many retailers are also offering curbside pickup.

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Since the start of November, Champion City Guide & Supply in Springfield has seen an increase in foot-traffic and sales as consumers gather gifts to send as a “token of Springfield” to loved ones, said Kelcie Webster, who works as the visitor center and marketing coordinator of the Greater Springfield Partnership and manager of Champion City Guide & Supply.

Webster said she expects the Black Friday weekend to be busy for everyone downtown, as it will also be the first weekend of Springfield’s Holiday in the City event.

She said that last year, Champion City was fortunate to have a website to use to market and sell products, and the business didn’t see “too major” of a decrease in sales from 2019. This year, sales are on pace with pre-pandemic sales, Webster said.

“We do still see people who are still trying to be very mindful of the fact that the pandemic isn’t over yet,” she said. “And prior to that, we still had people ordering stuff from out of state, wanting to remember Springfield. So it’s a great resource”

Grace Lane Boutique shop owner Danielle Goodman said her local store, which sells ethically sourced clothing in Beavercreek and downtown Dayton, said she is aiming to have some doorbusters Black Friday and have a larger sale for Small Business Saturday.

Because her store is both a small business and premised on ethical sourcing (avoiding sweatshops and child labor), that is reflected in the price. She can’t afford deep Black Friday markdowns like big fast fashion chains might be able to, and is instead aiming to draw intentional holiday shoppers who want what her store does best.

“And when you support small businesses, that money is going back into your own community,” Goodman said.


A survey of shoppers by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found

• For those shopping during the weekend, deals that are “too good to pass up” remain the top reason to shop, cited by 58%, but tradition continued to come in second at 28%.

• While Thanksgiving weekend will be busy, 61% said they had already begun their holiday shopping, about the same as last year’s 59% but up from 5% a decade ago in 2011. The survey found 46% started earlier this year than they typically do.

• While the bulk of shopping may be yet to come, consumers had completed 28% of their holiday shopping by early November.

• As to what consumers plan to buy, clothing continued to top the list, expected to be given by 53% of shoppers, followed by gift cards at 46%, toys at 39%, books/music/movies/video games at 35% and food/candy at 31% as the top five categories.

• Shoppers plan to buy an average three or four cards this year with an average $48.92 per card, including restaurant cards (cited by 32%), department store cards (26%), bank-issued gift cards (also 26%) and coffee shop cards (20%).

Expected U.S. shoppers By The Numbers

30.6 million: Thanksgiving Day

108 million: Black Friday

58.1 million: Small Business Saturday

62.8 million: Cyber Monday

Source: National Retail Federation

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