Retailers are preparing for one of the biggest weekends of the year, as an estimated 164 million people are expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to the annual survey released this week by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
The survey also found that consumers under the age of 35 are “more likely to be attracted by the social aspects of shopping over the weekend or by the fact that it is a family tradition” rather than the sales that have become synonymous with the weekend.
“While the long weekend always draws shoppers of all ages to take advantage of the irresistible deals and promotions that retailers are offering, we’re seeing a change in how the younger consumers see the weekend,” Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said in statement.
The shopping begins at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, with stores such as Best Buy promising doorbuster deals on televisions and electronics.
The NRF survey found that 21 percent of those planning to shop during the long holiday weekend intend to do so on Thanksgiving Day, but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 71 percent. Forty-one percent are expected to shop on Small Business Saturday, and 78 percent of those say they will do so specifically to support small businesses.
Sunday is expected to be the lightest day, with 20 percent of respondents expected to shop. The shopping weekend will wrap up on Cyber Monday, when 46 percent are expected to take advantage of online bargains.
Small Business Saturday started in 2010 to encourage consumers to shop in their small local stores rather than national chains and big-box stores. It has become an event in towns and cities as retailers recognize they can draw more customers as a group than they could with individual discounts and promotions.
Meriden, whose downtown isn’t as vibrant as neighboring towns, hopes to bring shoppers into the city on Small Business Saturday with a holiday festival that offers plenty of holiday shopping opportunities, in addition to entertainment, food and drink.
Saturday’s first Yule Fest on Colony Street is expected to draw hundreds. Santa Claus will arrive via the train. More than 35 pop-up vendors selling crafts and gifts will join Gallery 53, Silver City Ballroom, Downtown Coffee Shop, Trifecta Ecosystems and local bakeries in showcasing their services and products.
“It’s a testament that everybody wants downtown to work,” said Lisa Biesak of the Making Meriden Business Center. “It dovetails with Small Business Saturday.”
Unlike nearby Wallingford and Southington, where downtown shop owners decorate storefronts and offer enticing deals, Meriden will build on what it has and import the rest. There will be eight food trucks in addition to the vendors.
“We’re trying as hard as we can to get people to realize we have a downtown,” Biesak said. “The pop-up vendors give people the message if you build it they will come.”
The scene is different in Wallingford, where shop owners are geared up for Small Business Saturday. The Dressing Room, at 3 North Main St. will offer in-store specials, a full staff, gift wrapping and gifts with purchases, said owner Christine Rinere.
“We definitely count on it,” Rinere said. “It’s definitely one of our biggest days of the year.”
Big favorites are gifts, scarves, sweaters, and holiday wear for parties, including “a nice top to go to a holiday party,” she said.
Red Scroll Records on North Colony Street (Route 5) is also having specials on the store’s vast collection of vinyl records. Small Business Saturday is traditionally a good day for business, said co-owner Rick Sinkiewicz.
“We’ll have specials on a variety of merchandise, everything will be on sale in one way or another,” he said.
Cindy’s Unique Shop, also on North Colony Street, will offer a 20 percent off discount. Customers will also be invited to play a game and win prizes, said owner Cindy Ruszczyk.
“I do a fair amount of business,” Ruszczyk said about Small Business Saturday.
Wallingford Center Inc. is also sponsoring its 10th Annual Downtown Wallingford Holiday Stroll on Nov. 30, which features more than 40 participants.
Away from downtown, Wallingford Frame N’ Art is offering 20 percent off all custom framing over $100, said owner Lisa Gaw.
“It used to be busy on Saturday, but not so much any more,” Gaw said. “The holidays are steady.”
In Southington, the Southington Community Cultural Arts at 93 Main St. invites shoppers to visit its gift shop for unique handmade gifts for the holidays. There will be over 75 artists’ handiwork to choose from and refreshments.
Small shops along Center and Main streets will also be offering specials.