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Biz Buzz: It's happening - Black Friday, Small Business Saturday. How much will shoppers spend this season?

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Black Friday is on—just think of it more as Black Friday week.

While Black Friday, Nov. 23, has changed radically since the days when throngs of shoppers planned their stops and got up before dawn for deals. Now the deals start earlier and last longer, and are in store and online. While traditions change, it does provide shoppers with many more options. It's a reimagined retail—and that's a borrowed phrase—that should mean there are more ways for a greater number of people to enjoy the holiday season with perhaps less stress. There are more options for free shipping, in-store pickups, even options to pay installments—or what we used to know as layaway.

The International Council of Shopping Centers reported this fall that consumer spending is expected to hit $807 billion this season, which represents a 4.5 percent growth compared to 2017.

"Consumers are hitting the stores again this holiday season, sustaining the ongoing 'retail renaissance' and the convergence of digital and physical," the council reported in October.

The council is forecasting shoppers will spend $685 billion on gifts and other holiday items and $122 billion on food and beverages.

"Malls and shopping centers will, once again, be bustling with consumers this holiday season," the council noted in a news release on holiday trends using its annual survey data. "According to ICSC, 84 percent of shoppers will visit a mall or shopping center throughout the holidays, but the retailers who embrace omnichannel will benefit the greatest. Of the 40 percent of consumers who will use click-and-collect, 82 percent expect to spend additional money at that store or tenant, further bolstering retail sales."

"Our annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey findings demonstrate that consumers remain confident in the economy," said Tom McGee, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers said in a news release. "Shoppers want a combination of convenience and experience, and the retailers with the best omnichannel strategy are poised for success this holiday season."

The council reported consumer confidence is at its highest level since October of 2000.

"According to the survey, the average consumer plans to spend $706.40 this holiday season, with $522 allotted for gifts," the council noted. "Overall, 92 percent of U.S. consumers plan to purchase holiday gifts and other holiday items this year. Over half (54 percent) plan to spend more this year than last year, with more than one quarter (28 percent) pointing to a change in job status or income as a factor in their increased spend."

The annual survey is conducted in September with a U.S. sample of 1,002 adults.

Survey findings include:

  • one in four shoppers are planning to buy big-ticket items like household appliances or jewelry,
  • 40 percent are expected to buy electronics,
  • 64 percent of consumers plan to buy gift cards,
  • 52 percent plan to buy apparel and footwear,
  • 49 percent plan to buy toys and games,
  • 74 percent of shoppers say promotions play a role in their shopping,
  • 63 percent plan their holiday shopping around a specific promotional event—Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday, etc.
  • 47 percent said once they are in a store, the promotions they see influence their holiday purchases.
  • 20 percent say they are more influenced by promotions on social media compared to other mediums.

This will be the first season in the Brainerd lakes area without three department stores staples of J.C. Penney, Herberger's, and Gander Mountain.

A number of stores are starting deals online early, or have them in store already promising to help shoppers beat the rush. But some stores are changing their hours so they won't be opening on Thanksgiving and staying open all night leading into Black Friday.

  • Ace Hardware Black Friday sales are on now through Nov. 26.
  • Best Buy will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and with new doorbusters at 8 a.m. Friday and new deals revealed Saturday.
  • Big Lots deals start at 7 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Costco is closed on Thanksgiving and open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • Dick's Sporting Goods opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving with Black Friday extending to 2 a.m. on Friday.
  • Dunham's opens 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving and Black Friday hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23.
  • Home Depot is closed on Thanksgiving but open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • Kohl's deals start 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19, online and at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, in the store with Black Friday doorbusters at 12:01 a.m. Thursday online and in store at 5 p.m.
  • PetSmart is closed on Thanksgiving. The store opens 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • Target is offering early Black Friday deals to REDcard holders online on Wednesday, Nov. 21. The store opens at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving with the store closing at 1 a.m. Friday and reopening at 7 a.m. Friday.
  • Sears at the East Brainerd Mall is closed on Thanksgiving and opens from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • T.J. Maxx is closed on Thanksgiving but opens at 7 a.m. on Black Friday.
  • Menards is closed Thanksgiving Day and opening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday with gift items and its Enchanted Forest of decor. The store is also serving as a toy drive drop site.
  • Ulta Beauty opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 2 a.m. and then reopens at 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • Walmart's Black Friday starts at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, in stores and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, online. And Walmart notes people can jump start Black Friday with deals now.
  • Westgate Mall lists Santa's hours starting at noon to 6 p.m. on Black Friday.

This isn't an exhaustive list as there are numerous shops across Brainerd and Baxter and the wider lakes area with sales, deals and specials to tap into the Black Friday juggernaut. Check out the Brainerd Dispatch Black Friday edition coming out Thanksgiving Day for updates on sales and specials.

Shop Small

Small Business Saturday, which is geared to remind people to think of the big difference they can make by shopping the many small and local shops and business, is Nov. 24. American Express launched the campaign in 2010. The day has grown to include events, activities, specials that help link residents and local shoppers to small businesses.

American Express reports another reason to shop small is that 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business remains in the local community.

"U.S. small businesses are responsible for $4.8 trillion in (Gross Domestic Product), equivalent to the third largest economy in the world, according to a new study from American Express," the company reported.

"Now in its ninth year, 97 percent of consumers who plan to Shop Small on the day said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community, according to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, another study released today by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, based on a separate survey of consumers," American Express reported.

Other notables from the survey included:

• As consumer shopping habits shift further online, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) are likely to seek out small, independently-owned retailers when shopping online, including 59 percent who plan to Shop Small online this Small Business Saturday; even 40 percent of consumers say they will shop with a small retailer online this Cyber Monday;

• Among consumers who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday: Nearly all (96 percent) said Small Business Saturday inspires them to go to small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants that they have not been to before, or would not have otherwise tried; plans to shop include visiting independently-owned bakeries (40 percent); clothing, accessory and shoe stores (40 percent); restaurants, bars and pubs (37 percent); bookstores (32 percent); and gift, novelty and souvenir stores (30 percent).

• Everyone is welcome to join the Shop Small community online by using the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat between now and Small Business Saturday. Consumers can also RSVP on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and receive reminders to Shop Small this Nov. 24, and show their support using brand new stickers and GIFs by searching "Shop Small" on Giphy via Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat stories.

New options

Walmart hosted a grand reopening Nov. 9 for its remodel of the Baxter Walmart Supercenter. Changes include interactive displays and updates to the MoneyCenter, pharmacy, clothing departments and fitting rooms, home department and a new Walmart Pickup Kiosk.

"We're always looking for ways to make our customers' lives easier," said Store Manager Jarrod Brademan, in a news release. "We're excited for everyone to come see how we are helping give time back to our customers with a new and improved shopping experience."

During the grand opening, Walmart presented donations to organizations, including the Baxter Police Department.

Caribbean Tanning is opening a location in the Tyrol Hills Mall by Ace Hardware. Work on transforming the space is underway.

Baxter Village phase two is now full with the military recruitment offices on West Washington Street moving out to the development just off Highway 371.

A pet daycare and overnight boarding facility at 8301 Industrial Park Road will be before the Baxter City Council Tuesday, Nov. 20, with the council considering an ordinance allowing such a business as a conditional use in the industrial/office zoning district.

Instacart—the delivery service that allows people to shop online with a personal shopper then filling the order and delivering it to your door—provides the service for Cub Foods and Costco and now added Aldi to the list. There are free delivery options, the ability to use coupons and Instacart recently noted its delivery charge was reduced from $5.99 to $3.99.