Four-day shopping weekend wraps up with downtown event today

Published 3:00 pm Friday, November 23, 2018

In the age of technology, one would think the tradition of standing in line before dawn the day after Thanksgiving waiting for a store to open its doors would die off. But rather than get on their laptop computer and shop in their pajamas from the comfort of home eating leftover turkey, dozens of people were in front of Belk, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and several other Vicksburg stores eager to purchase bargains Friday morning.

Despite the increase in online shopping in recent years, local retailers didn’t see a slack off from previous years.

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“Business has been great today in comparison to other days,” Neil Hamilton, manager at Cowboy Maloney’s, said.

A couple dozen people stood outside Belk waiting for the doors to open at 6 a.m.

“We had a lot of people come in today,” Danny Cooke, manager at Belk, said. “We’ve had a ton of sales on electronics.”

“We’ve absolutely had an increase in customers,” Trina Johnson, an employee at Hobby Lobby, said. “We usually have one or two people come in the morning when we open at 9, but today we opened at 8 and had seven or eight people come in that’d been waiting on us to open.”

Small Business Saturday

In downtown Vicksburg Saturday, shoppers came out to support local merchants and business was apparently brisk on Small Business Saturday.

“We have everything on sale and it’s ready to go,” Steven Marcus, owner of Marcus Furniture Company, said. “We’ve been participating in Small Business Saturday since it started.”

A majority of the downtown stores participate in the annual event each year, often attracting more customers than on Black Friday.

“This will be my fourth year and we usually have a good crowd,” Mary Hellen Welch, owner of PaperPlus, said.

Shana Riddle, owner of Shananigan’s — a new business downtown — was hopeful of a good turnout.

“I’m hoping we have a good crowd,” Riddle said. “We’ve been planning for it.”

Many of those same businesses will be participating Sunday in the annual Downtown Christmas Old Fashioned Open House from 1:30 to 5 p.m., to wrap up the four-day holiday shopping weekend to kickoff the Christmas season.

Some of the specials include free poinsettias while they last to shoppers who spend $25 or more and a special visit from Santa.

Hopeful economy

Brick-and-mortar stores have worked hard to prove they can counter the competition from online behemoth Amazon. From Macy’s to Target and Walmart, retailers are blending their online and store shopping experience with new tools like digital maps on smart phones and more options for shoppers to buy online and pick up at the stores.

The holiday shopping season presents a big test for a U.S. economy, whose overall growth so far this year has relied on a burst of consumer spending.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is expecting holiday retail sales in November and December — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — to increase as much as 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $720.89 billion. The sales growth marks a slowdown from last year’s 5.3 percent, which was the largest gain since 2010. But the figure is still healthy.

The retail economy is also tilting steeply toward online shopping. Over the past 12 months, purchases at non-store retailers such as Amazon have jumped 12.1 percent. Meanwhile, sales at traditional department stores have slumped 0.3 percent. Adobe Analytics, which tracks online retail spending, reported Thursday that Thanksgiving should reach a record $3.7 billion in online retail sales, up 29 percent from the same year ago period.

Reporter Gabrielle Terrett and The Associated Press contributed to this article