The stories are of nearly mythic status. On Black Friday, retailers expect hordes of frenzied shoppers to line up in the wee hours of the morning and storm their floors for the best deals on flat screen TVS and other on-sale items before Christmas.
But fast and furious Black Friday shopping may be a thing of the past, at least as far as small businesses are concerned. And retailers can thank the ascendance of online shopping and the addition of shopping days, such as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, for stealing some of the thunder.
Taken together, holiday sales have become a more extended phenomenon for small businesses.
“For us, Small Business Saturday is two to three times bigger than Black Friday,” says Anthony Qaiyum, president and co-owner of Merz Apothecary, a retailer of high-end health and beauty products in Chicago.
Merz has 50 employees and does about $16 million in annual sales — about 15% of it during the holidays. So, while Qaiyum definitely makes sure he’s fully staffed for Black Friday, he has found that the holiday selling season now extends from early in November straight through the second week of January.
Merz’s experience is in line with data that tracks consumer attitudes about Black Friday. In its most recent holiday spending survey, consulting firm Deloitte found that more than half of consumers no longer rely as much on Black Friday to get their shopping done. Only 9% of those polled said they expected to do the majority of their shopping on Black Friday, compared to 40% who will wait until December.
Just as surprising, Deloitte also found, in a separate pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey, that nearly a quarter of holiday shoppers plan to show up for shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself. Roughly a third will also be shopping online that day. Their reason? Seventy-one percent said they are convinced they will find the best deals that day.
“There are so many promotional offers throughout the week, that [Black Friday] does not matter as much as it used to, and our respondents tell us that,” says Rod Sides vice chairman of retail distribution for Deloitte.
Small businesses would do well to be ready for crowds nonetheless. Deloitte has also found that as much as $200 billion in market share is now up for grabs from the top 25 publicly traded retailers — including Amazon and Walmart.
“This market share is being traded to smaller [businesses],” Sides says.