Small businesses see bigger uptick on Black Friday, study says (Ahwatukee Foothill News)

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By Wayne Schutsky, AFN Staff Writer

Nov 24, 2017

Despite its reputation as a boon for big-box stores, Black Friday also provides a sales boost for small businesses. In fact, according to one business services firm, Black Friday has a more significant economic impact on local retailers than Small Business Saturday.

Business software provider Womply analyzed transactions from 1,500 local retailers in Arizona in 2016 and found that Black Friday sales far outpaced sales on Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010 as a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and encourages shoppers to support local retailers.

According to the data, the revenue the small businesses brought in on Black Friday was 175 percent of normal daily revenue. Comparatively, the shops brought in 126 percent of average daily revenue on Small Business Saturday.

The most obvious reason for Black Friday’s impact on small businesses is name recognition. Quite simply, it has been around longer – references in a retail context date back to the 1960s – and has greater consumer participation.

“There is a very natural gravitational pull from Black Friday,” Womply spokesman Brad Plothow said. “It is popular and gets people out of the house.”

That participation benefits all retailers, regardless of size.

“Local retailers will get a natural lift from people just being out of the house,” Plothow said.

Despite the conclusions pulled from Womply’s data, local businesses in the East Valley have varied experiences this time of year.

Chandler gift shop Sibley’s West is open on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving but historically does much more business on Small Business Saturday.

“(Black Friday is) a good holiday day for us, but our Small Business Saturday smokes it out,” Sibley’s West owner Michelle Wolfe said. “We are much busier on Small Business Saturday.”

The Chandler store is planning on running specials for customers and will announce the details prior to the day.

“I think you are always going to have a subset of people who have an affinity for buying local,” Plothow said. “Those people are probably responding to the idea of shopping local on (Small Business Saturday).”

He added, “Other folks are more pragmatic when shopping, and (local retailers) have to clearly demonstrate that they have sales or savings on par with other Black Friday deals.”

The experience at Mesa’s Furniture Plus falls in line with the data.

Furniture Plus – which has been in business in Mesa since 1983 – experiences a large uptick in traffic on Black Friday and is considering offering a giveaway or raffle to customers this year. The company has no plans to participate in Small Business Saturday, though, owner Chad Carling said.

Similarly, Gilbert’s Shar’s Kitchen will be open for Black Friday and post some specials on social media in the days leading up to the event but has no plans to observe Small Business Saturday.

To take advantage of the Black Friday bump, Plothow suggests local businesses offer promotions in line with larger retailers. He also said small businesses should reach out to existing customers to publicize discounts and let them know the store will be open.

“Optimize staffing and optimize your promotions,” he said. “If people understand you are open that day and are offering discounts, then they will come.”

The Womply data also pinpointed another day that local retailers can look to for a sales boost – Dec. 23. The Arizona businesses tracked in the research brought in revenues 135 percent of normal daily revenue on that day.

Plothow suggested that retailers stay open late as the holidays approach to take advantage of procrastination by shoppers.

– Reach Wayne Schutsky at 480-898-6533 or wschutsky@timespublications.com.