Bladen County shoppers jump-started the Christmas shopping season with a history-making focus.
“Saturday was a bigger day for us than Friday,” said Ricky Leinwand, owner of Leinwand’s department store in Elizabethtown. “That’s the first time that’s ever happened, since American Express started Small Business Saturday.”
Introduced in 2010 as a counterpart to Black Friday’s lean to big box retail and Cyber Monday’s nod to e-commerce, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are comparatively small and local.
Though the deep discounts afforded to big box stores are often hard to resist, the unique items and customer service found in smaller stores is often what patrons are seeking.
“I like a good deal, just like everybody else,” said Natasha Poindexter on social media. “But it’s important for us to support local shops. They’re convenient for returns, you can find (cool) items you can’t find anywhere else, you know the quality before you buy, and you’re supporting your neighbors. Plus, you won’t get the smiles or helpful people in (a large store) you get in (local ones).”
Poindexter’s social media page shows her — all smiles — laden with shopping bags and the caption, “Did my part.”
The eagerness to get started on Christmas shopping is so great that many businesses have started giving shoppers more and more days to take part in it, starting their sales as early as the Monday before Thanksgiving.
Among them are Leinwand’s and Goody’s, a department store in Elizabethtown. Manager Eric Rich said his store’s Black Friday offerings, which began Tuesday, included supersized teddy bears, a $350 cooler, and $250 gifts cards. He called the week “really great” and, though his numbers weren’t in, feels there were more shoppers than usual in the store.
“I want to especially thank the community for it, because we appreciate all their support,” Rich commented.
Like Rich, Leinwand’s store was open Monday through Saturday, save for Thanksgiving Day, and he said the “great week” meant the slowest day was only $2,000 away from the highest day.
Such spending reflects what was seen across the nation following Thanksgiving, as Americans spent record-breaking amounts of money before December even rolled in. Earlier this week, online giant Amazon announced its largest Cyber Monday ever, and e-commerce as a whole jumped more than 100 percent. Online sales reached a record-breaking $6.59 billion, compared with $2.98 billion in 2015 and $2.65 billion in 2014.
Overall, American holiday spending is expected to increase roughly 3.8 percent over last year, due in part to high consumer confidence and increased disposable income.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing email@example.com.