Holiday shopping picking up as Christmas approaches

Last-minute shoppers encouraged to support local retailers, business organizations say.

With one week until Christmas, businesses are preparing for last-minute shoppers after a record number were already out the weekend after Thanksgiving, national figures show.

Across the U.S., about 200 million consumers shopped over the five-day holiday weekend from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, surpassing last year’s record of 196.7 million, according to an annual survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics.

The National Retail Federation initially estimated 182 million people would be out shopping on the popular Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday weekend. Nationally, about 78% of Saturday shoppers on Nov. 25 shopped specifically for Small Business Saturday, the National Retail Federation said.

The day after Thanksgiving, often referred to as Black Friday, is usually one of the highest shopping days of the year and begins an important time period of the year for retailers.

“The five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday represents some of the busiest shopping days of the year and reflects the continued resilience of consumers and strength of the economy,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.

Shoppers exceeded the federation’s expectations with a robust turnout, Shay said.

“Retailers large and small were prepared to deliver safe, convenient and affordable shopping experiences with the products and services consumers needed, and at great prices,” Shay said.

Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs, or about 52 million working Americans, according to the federation.

State figures projected an estimated 0.7% increase this shopping season in Ohio, according to an annual forecast from the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and University of Cincinnati Economics Center.

A decline of 0.8% in spending was estimated for the Dayton region, according to the UC Economics Center forecast.

The Dayton and Cleveland regions, the latter of which was estimated to see a decline of 4.4% in spending this season, were hit harder in certain areas in terms of jobs and wages during the pandemic and have been slower to recover, UC Economics Center Director of Research Brad Evans previously said.

Regardless of those projections, organizations in the area supporting local businesses said they saw a good turnout the weekend after Thanksgiving.

“There was a really great crowd of people who were out shopping, so it was really nice to see, especially because that was the same day as the Ohio State-Michigan game,” said Jessica Sands, marketing manager for the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “...It was just really nice to just see people out and about supporting the community on Shop Small Saturday.”

This has been a positive shopping season, retailers say.

“We had a very successful evening event last (Thursday night) for Sunset at the Market that was in conjunction with the Arcade’s Holly Days,” said Lynda Suda, manager of Five Rivers MetroParks’ 2nd Street Market.

Retailers are expecting crowds this week as shoppers go out to buy last-minute gifts as Christmas quickly approaches. The 2nd Street Market added some part-time, pop-up vendors for the season, too.

“We’ve steadily gotten busier each weekend,” Suda said.

Because Christmas falls on a Monday this year, the market will continue to be open its regular hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Businesses are also staying busy in the Springfield region.

“Champion City Guide + Supply has enjoyed a great holiday season so far,” said Christopher Schutte, vice president of destination marketing and communications, Greater Springfield Partnership

The holiday shopping season began for Springfield with the Holiday in the City Grand Illumination on Nov. 24, he said.

“The holiday lights and events downtown have continued to drive well-above average holiday sales,” Schutte said about Champion City Guide + Supply. “With history as our guide we definitely expect to see a large number of last-minute shoppers looking for that unique gift to finish off their Christmas list!”

As the last-minute shopping crunch approaches, local groups are encouraging people to take advantage of small, local businesses.

“The holidays are a really, really important time of year for small businesses especially, so if you can go out and just like grab a coffee at your favorite local coffee shop or maybe swap out one of your gifts for something locally sold that would be really helpful and every little bit counts,” Sands said.

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