Friday blacker for some than others in Summit County
November 30, 2010
The snarling wind and frigid temperatures couldn’t keep the hordes of frenzied shoppers from snagging Black Friday deals over the weekend in Summit County.
While national chains drew bigger crowds than last year with deep product discounts, local shops that couldn’t offer similar deals saw little to no increase in traffic compared to 2009. But by working together, local businesses hope to compete with national chains and box stores throughout the rest of the season.
Outlets draw the masses
The Outlets at Silverthorne saw a spike in traffic over last year’s Black Friday weekend thanks to a plethora of discounts and an abundance of early-season snow, according to general manager Jayne Esser. The Outlets’ success followed the national trend of increased traffic and sales. Nationally, 212 million shoppers hit the stores over the weekend – up from 195 million last year – and the average amount each shopper spent rose from $343.31 in 2009 to $365.34 this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
“Generally what we’re hearing back, especially for Friday, was that traffic was good until the negative-21 degree wind chill in the afternoon sent people home,” Esser said. “Up until then traffic was incredible – way up from last year.”
Black Friday weekend marks the time of year when retailers tend to go from being in the red to in the black – a euphemism returning a profit. Deep discounts on select items draw customers in, and retailers hope those customers will spend liberally. Target, for instance, offered a 40-inch, high definition television set for $298 – more than $250 off the original price.
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“People were buying more, but still looking for value,” Esser said. “Stores with the best promotions were up about double from last year, and even those with less of a promotional offer saw better results than last year.”
The Outlets at Silverthorne supplemented deals offered by individual stores with its Midnight Madness event Thursday night and the Shopping Extravaganza event on Saturday. The events encouraged customers to shop at off-peak hours and helped to even traffic flows for stores, but Esser said the events were also scheduled to draw tourists from the resorts after the mountains closed.
“The snow conditions are better than they’ve ever been early in the season, and we’re hoping more people will have a positive experience and return next year,” Esser said.
Local shops look for a niche
While the big boxes stores and outlet malls thrived, locally owned businesses saw only a moderate uptick in business, if at all.
“(Sales) were pretty flat. We were definitely hoping for more with all the snow and visitors,” Peak A Boo Toys owner Jeff Boyd said of his Breckenridge store.
Mary Elaine, owner of children’s clothing store Stork and Bear Co. and Around the World Toys in Frisco, experienced similar returns. She said traffic over the weekend was about the same as last year.
“It’s always a challenge for local, independent business to compete with the massive, national power of big-box and chain marketing dollars,” said Katie Roberts, executive director of the Summit Independence Business Alliance. “They simply do not have the collective buying power and the associated bulk discounts that come with that collective buying power.”
The challenge for independent businesses is to offer value to customers in other ways, Roberts said. Elaine’s stores offer smaller holiday discounts than some of the chain stores, but the deals apply to higher quality brands and products.
“We’re not over the top,” Elaine said. “We’re timeless in that our toys and clothing can be enjoyed and passed down and cherished forever. Our customers really want something of quality and value.”
Locally owned businesses are also combating the national chains’ economies of scale by teaming up through SIBA. The annual Summit Unchained event encourages shoppers to spend their money at participating SIBA member stores by offering punch cards that can be filled up by making purchases at those shops. Once filled, the cards can be returned for a chance to win prizes at the end of the shopping season. More information on the program can be found at the SIBA website at http://www.summitindependentbusiness.com.
SDN reporter Drew Andersen can be contacted at (970) 668-4633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.