It used to be shoppers would head out early on Black Friday to get that big-screen TV or the latest toys.
But then stores started opening earlier — Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night (now they’re open all day on Thanksgiving).
Then came came Cyber Monday for the online shopper, and then Small Business Saturday grew in popularity.
What was once a one-day shopping opportunity has changed to a weekend full of deals for consumers. About 69 percent of people — or 164 million — plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.
There will be about 115 million shoppers going out on Black Friday, with 71 million deciding to shop on Small Business Saturday and another 78 million shopping on Cyber Monday.
“We’re just waiting for a retailer to coin that Sunday shopping, because that is also a popular day for consumers,” said Ana Smith, senior director of media relations at the NRF.
Smith said the surge in weekend-long shopping is being driven by both retailers and consumers. By early November, about 56 percent of people had already begun holiday shopping. Retailers know this and are taking advantage with earlier promotions.
“The biggest thing to note about this is that retailers want to make more than just one (day of shopping) off of you, but they’re also listening to customers who want to shop more than one day and take advantage of promotions,” Smith said.
One of those retailers is Boscov’s in Egg Harbor Township. The store offered a friends and family discount on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, leading up to a busy Thanksgiving weekend.
“Every business is trying to get everything they can, and our Black Fridays aren’t as big as they were 12 or 15 years ago. But our business is now spread out,” said Sylvia Kusmiesz, manager of human resources at Boscov’s.
Kusmiesz also said she thinks it’s better that weekend shopping is more spread out.
“I think it’s easier to staff over more days, and we have better customer service. We only have so many cash registers,” she said.
Jaime Hannigan co-owns White Lotus at the Hamilton Mall. As a small business owner, she said both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are essential to the store’s success. There is even an ad at the front of the store with the hashtag #ShopLocal.
“I always tell people, with moderation, you can shop at Target, but to consciously support small business is important, and it’s important for Small Business Saturday to be highlighted as an important day,” Hannigan said.
Even Sunday, the last day without a formal name in its Thanksgiving title, will still see an estimated 35 million shoppers.
The final day of the shopping period, Cyber Monday, is still growing in popularity, as 64 percent of shoppers plan to use their smartphone to research or make a purchase over the weekend, according to the NRF. Online shopping was also the No. 1 response to how shoppers planned to purchase items, with 59 percent of people surveyed saying they would make a purchase online.
Smith said millennials make up the largest portion of online Monday shoppers.
Another number that stood out among the NRF statistics is 26: the percentage of people who go shopping over the weekend because of tradition.
That, Smith said, is still a big reason for the whole weekend’s success.
“It’s definitely mostly driven by family tradition, and it’s going to continue on,” Smith said. “Now, with Generation Z people, who are born with a cellphone in their hand and know how to online shop, there’s something so special of being in store, reminds them of the stories from their parents or grandparents. That’s why the weekend shopping experience, whether or not you like the crowds, will keep happening.”
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