A guide to help navigate Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday

·7 min read

Though the trend of holiday spending each year seems to begin earlier and earlier, Thanksgiving weekend continues to mark the official game-on mindset for most shoppers.

This year is pegged to be an improvement over 2020.

Nearly 2 million more people than last year are expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, according to the annual survey recently released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“We’re expecting another record-breaking holiday season this year and Thanksgiving weekend will play a major role as it always has,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Nonetheless, consumers are starting earlier than ever to be sure they can get what they want, when they want it, at a price they want to pay.”

He said Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween.

Interior signage at a Walmart supercenter promotes the store's Black Friday shopping deals.
Interior signage at a Walmart supercenter promotes the store's Black Friday shopping deals.

“Retailers are confident they have enough inventory on hand to meet holiday demand,” he said.

According to a survey done in early November, the report said two-thirds of holiday shoppers plan to make purchases during the Thanksgiving weekend.

By that estimation, that means 158.3 million people could potentially be out spending over the weekend; that figure is up from 156.6 million last year but still below the 165.3 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

Estimating average consumer gift budgets at $1,000, the survey found 30.6 million planned to shop either in-store or online on Thanksgiving Day, 108 million on Black Friday, 58.1 million on Small Business Saturday, 31.2 million on Sunday and 62.8 million on Cyber Monday.

Consumers are motivated to check items off their lists earlier than ever.

“Shopping early is a trend we’ve seen for years and it began long before the pandemic,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “While some consumers like the thrill of last-minute shopping and others just procrastinate, many prefer the comfort of having the shopping done early so they can relax and enjoy the season.”

Half (49 percent) of holiday shoppers started checking out and/or purchasing products before November, up from 42 percent in 2020 and the highest in the survey's history. For those getting a jumpstart in October or before, 47 percent said they wanted to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and another 36 percent did not want to miss out on key holiday items.

What's being purchased?

According to the survey, clothing continued to top the list and is expected to be given by 53 percent of shoppers, followed by gift cards (46 percent), toys (39 percent), books/music/movies/video games (35 percent) and food/candy (31 percent) to round out the top five categories.

Gift cards remain a perennial favorite for the flexibility afforded to recipients, with spending expected to total $28.1 billion, the highest since $29.9 billion in 2018. Shoppers plan to buy an average three or four cards this year with an average $48.92 per card, including restaurant cards (cited by 32 percent), department store cards (26 percent), bank-issued gift cards (also 26 percent) and coffee shop cards (20 percent).

The origins and evolution of Black Friday: A tale of speculation and greed

Top toy picks for 2021

  • LEGOs

  • Barbies

  • Cars, trucks, remote control cars

  • Dolls, LOL Dolls, baby dolls, American Girl dolls

  • Hot Wheels

  • Playstations

  • Video games

  • Apple products, smartphones

  • Nerf

  • Paw Patrol

  • “Frozen” movie-related apparel and accessories

  • Xbox, Nintendo Switch

  • Disney/Disney Princess items

  • Pokemon

  • Beauty products

Black Friday shopping guide: Sales, bargains, deals and gift ideas

Small Business Saturday

While Black Friday reigns as the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, over the past several years the popularity of Small Business Saturday has continued to pick up speed. Maybe now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local economies, this shopping day holds even more importance and value.

Historically, reported projected spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $19.8 billion, according to the 2020 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses account for most of the jobs in this country, and small businesses create most of America’s net new jobs.

For many of those small businesses, the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a crucial period that could determine whether they are profitable for the year.

There are countless Shawnee shop owners excited about the opportunity to shine that day; customers need only look.

According to the annual survey, most consumers are willing to pay slightly more for an item if it is purchased from a small, independently-owned retailer as opposed to online or at a large retailer.

On average, consumers are planning to do more than one-third of their holiday shopping at small businesses.

Almost half of consumers who expect to shop on the day plan to spend more on Small Business Saturday this year than they spent last year.

Almost two-thirds of consumers who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday are motivated by the contributions that small businesses make to their community.

More: How small businesses can boost their cash flow heading into the holidays

Cyber Monday

Weighing the pros and cons of online shopping can be difficult; here are some tips to consider:

Pro: Convenience — In comparison to a brick and mortar store with fixed hours, online shoppers can choose any time of the day or night to get on the Web and shop. This is especially useful for moms with small children, people who are home-bound, or in times of inclement weather.

Pro: Price comparisons — When visiting a store, whatever price the vendor has placed on a particular item is likely non-negotiable. Not so with online shopping — customers have the ability to compare prices from hundreds of different vendors. In addition, many online stores want to keep their customers, and offer deep discounts.

Pro: Infinite choice — Shelf space in a brick and mortar store is limited, which means the variety of goods is limited. With an online store the choices — and websites — are overwhelmingly abundant.

Pro: Easy access to consumer reviews — Consumer reviews offer help in making more informed decisions on purchases.

Pro: No pressure sales — We've all been awkwardly propositioned by eager salespeople. Shoppers don't have to put up with that online at all. The consumer is completely in charge of the experience.

Con: You can't try things on — When buying clothing, a customer doesn't have the ability to feel the material, try it on and see how it's made. Unless you know your measurements and are familiar with the brand of clothing offered, this could end up being a bad experience.

Con: You can't talk to someone immediately — If you have a question about what you're looking at, you probably will have to wait at least 24 hours to get a question answered (however, many sites have "instant chat" enabled that take care of this issue).

Con: Privacy and security — Privacy and security are legitimate concerns for any online shopper, but there are precautions you can take to make sure your transaction is a safe one. For example, paying attention to HTTPS protocols, installing free spyware removal tools, knowing how to identify online scams and hoaxes, surfing anonymously, and keeping your Web usage private are all smart ways to address any privacy and security issues.

Information from Lifewire.com.

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: Which day has the best deals?

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday keeps the spending spree in motion for another day as the global generosity movement reminds shoppers now is a good time to help charitable causes or worthy nonprofits.

According to the website, at givingtuesday.org, Nov. 30 will be an “opportunity for people around the world to come together through generosity in all its forms by sharing acts of kindness and giving their voice, time, money, goods and advocacy to support communities and causes.”

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.

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This article originally appeared on The Shawnee News-Star: Holiday shopping season kicks off this weekend in Shawnee: A guide

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