Today is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year and the “official” start of holiday gift buying.
Early sales have jumpstarted the tradition in recent years with buys offered earlier and earlier but, still, Black Friday does bring out the bargain hunter in many of us.
For retailers — and Southwest Florida’s retail-driven economy — that’s always good thing, this year, maybe, more so than ever.
The National Retail Federation predicts an up year for buying this year.
The federation forecasts that holiday sales this month and next “will increase between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with a 4 percent increase to $729.1 billion last year and an average holiday sales increase of 3.5 percent over the past five years.”
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay sums things up succinctly:
“We know this holiday season will be unlike any other, and retailers have planned ahead by investing billions of dollars to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers,” Mr. Shay said in the organization’s annual pre-Black Friday release. “Consumers have shown they are excited about the holidays and are willing to spend on gifts that lift the spirits of family and friends after such a challenging year. We expect a strong finish to the holiday season, and will continue to work with municipal and state officials to keep retailers open and the economy moving forward at this critical time.”
While this is good — and unexpected — news for retailers, their employees and the top of side of supply chain, for small and local brick-and-mortar businesses there’s a caveat.
The federation projects that online and other “non-store” sales, a big component of the numbers, will jump between 20 percent and 30 percent, encompassing between $202.5 billion and $218.4 billion of the tally, up from $168.7 billion last year.
Small businesses — shops, stores, restaurants, hotels and more — have taken a pretty hard hit due to the pandemic. Many here in Cape Coral and our neighboring communities are still struggling.
So this year, Black Friday bargains, absolutely, who can resist a great deal?
But for the special, the unique, the gifts that require a little imagination or thought, consider what our local businesses have to offer.
Ornaments and collectibles. Cookies, cupcakes, pastries and holiday breads. Special ingredients for once-a-year dishes, fresh local seafood, deli delights, and jars and tins for hand-made gift baskets. Restaurant gift cards. Spa, hotel or resort reservations. One-of-a-kind jewelry, pricey and not. Plants, flowers, furnishings and incidentals that will be cherished long after the holidays have passed.
Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.
It’s an option for giving — and for giving back.
Whether you choose to shop at retailers big, small, or both, we urge you to shop safety and enjoy the hunt for the all the gifts on your shopping list.
And we invite you to check the Weekday and Weekend Breeze for fliers, inserts, circulars and special advertising. You will find lots more bargains in the weeks ahead.
Only 27 more shopping days to Christmas!
— Breeze editorial