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How big are Black Friday and Small Business Saturday for local retail businesses?

November 22, 2019

Black Friday has long held the reputation as the single-biggest shopping day of the year. But, in recent years, that reputation has begun to fade. As online shopping has continued to grow more popular and increasingly convenient, the allure of door busting deals and long lines in the cold seems to be waning.

According to the Wall Street Journal, traffic on Black Friday fell as much as 9% in 2018 from 2017.

Despite this greater trend, however, Black Friday still remains a huge shopping day for retail businesses of all shapes and sizes. Even though the day has been long-associated with big box retailers, it remains a top day of the year at small and local retail businesses as well.

According to our latest State of Local Retail Report, Black Friday was the 5th biggest day of the year by total consumer spending:

Ahead of Black Friday are the weekends before Christmas and Mother’s Day. This suggests that even as Amazon Prime 2-day shipping grows, people still rely heavily on brick and mortar retail businesses for their last-minute shopping needs.

But what about Small Business Saturday? The unofficial holiday was created by American Express 10 years ago to encourage Americans to shop local and support Main Street — particularly after Black Friday’s association with big box retailers.

But does Small Business Saturday actually move the needle for local retail businesses? And what does Black Friday look like at the average retail business?

We analyzed transaction data at over 60,000 retail businesses across the country, to find out the answer to these questions and more.

The average week at local retail businesses

Before we dive into Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, let’s take a look at what a typical Friday and Saturday might look like at local retail businesses.

It should come as no surprise that Fridays and Saturdays are particularly big for local retail. 35% of all dollars spent at retail businesses in our analysis came in the doors on those two days alone. Weekdays, meanwhile, remain remarkably consistent. Sundays, when 57% of retail businesses remain closed,, were responsible for only 7% of revenue.

When you look how open retailers behave on each day of the week, you can see that average transactions go way up on the weekends, while average ticket price actually goes down.

How big is Black Friday at local retail businesses

Now that we’ve established just how big Fridays and Saturdays are for local retail, let’s take a closer look at Black Friday. We already know it’s the #5 day of the year overall, but how does it compare to what retail businesses might experience on a typical Friday?

On average, retail businesses brought in an impressive 61% more in revenue on Black Friday than on a typical Friday. As you can see, this is primarily due to a huge increase in foot traffic. On average, retail businesses in our analysis processed 22 transactions on Black Friday compared to the 14 they’d see on a typical Friday.

Interestingly, customers aren’t really spending more on Black Friday at local retail businesses, though. This suggests that local retail businesses don’t really experience the type of big ticket spending seen at your average big box store. But the significant increase in shoppers is more than enough to make the day an impactful one.

How big is Small Business Saturday at local retail businesses?

Next, let’s take a look at Small Business Saturday. As our weekly breakdown shows, retail businesses average 17 transactions on Saturdays, making it easily the busiest day of the week.

So does the increased emphasis on shopping local move the needle on Small Business Saturday? Let’s take a look:

On average, Small Business Saturday brought a 10% increase in revenue compared to a typical Saturday. That’s a decent lift for the biggest day of the week, but it’s clear that Small Business Saturday hasn’t broken through as a major national shopping day. At least not yet.

Are there cities where Small Business Saturday is huge for local retail businesses?

Small Business Saturday may not be established enough to move the needle for local retail on a national scale, but is that the case everywhere? Are there parts of the country where the “shop local” phenomenon has made Small Business Saturday a premiere day for local retail?

We found the cities where Small Business Saturday had the biggest increases (and decreases) in total retail spending compared to a typical Saturday.

Retail businesses in Springfield saw an impressive 81% increase in total revenue compared to a typical Saturday, making it the home to the biggest Small Business Saturday in our analysis. Small Business Saturday was such a success in Springfield that it was the second biggest day of the year overall!

Albany, New York wasn’t far behind with a 71% increase, and Davenport, Iowa, Branson, Missouri, and Nampa, Idaho round out the top five.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Lakeland, Florida, where total revenue on Small Business Saturday was 47% less than a typical Saturday.

Where was Black Friday biggest for local retail businesses

Even though we’ve already learned that Black Friday is huge for local retail across the country, we decided to see which cities saw the biggest and smallest boosts in revenue on that day as well:

Frederick, Maryland topped this list, as local retailers in that city experienced an astounding 233% increase in total revenue on Black Friday when compared to a typical Friday.

Retail businesses in Youngstown, Ohio, Winchester, Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Springfield, Massachusetts all saw total revenue increase by over 100% as well.

A pair of Texas cities—Tyler and The Woodlands—saw the slowest Black Fridays at local retail businesses.

Which types of local retail businesses do best on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday?

As you can imagine, local retail consists of many types of shops and businesses. Everything from bookstores to sporting goods, home decor to clothing shops, and vape stores to gift stores — all these and more fall under the “retail” umbrella.

So, we were curious which types of retail businesses did best on Black Friday and on Small Business Saturday (and which did the worst).

Types of local retail businesses on Black Friday:

Music, Video and DVD shops had the biggest increase in total revenue on Black Friday. Surprisingly, Black Friday was only their 6th biggest day of the year, which emphasizes the outsized impact of major shopping days has on those businesses.

As you can see, though, Black Friday brought huge increases in revenue for all types of retail businesses, as each of our top 10 types saw over 100% increases in total revenue.

Other types of businesses where Black Friday was a top 5 day of the year included: Clothing stores, jewelry stores, department stores, electronics stores, appliance shops, and smoke shops.

The types of businesses that didn’t fare so well on Black Friday included seasonal businesses like pool supply stores and gardening stores, as well as less holiday sales-oriented businesses like office supply stores, tailors, and drugstores.

Types of local retail businesses on Small Business Saturday:

Antique shops were easily the most successful type of retail businesses on Small Business Saturday. It was the #1 day of the year overall for antique shops, and they experienced a 131% increase in total revenue vs an average day.

Unlike Black Friday, however, Small Business Saturday was a top five day for only one other type of retail business: Gift and novelty shops.

How to get the most out of Small Business Saturday if you own or manage a local retail business

If you own or manage a local retail business, is Black Friday one of your biggest days of the year? Has your city made a big “shop local” push on Small Business Saturday? Or do you struggle to compete with big box and online retailers during the holidays?

Check out our helpful article: 8 steps to prepare your small business for the holidays for helpful tips and pointers on how to prep for the busy season (or draw in more customers if this isn’t your busy season.

Check out a few of our helpful guides for store owners:

Finally, check out how Womply’s reputation management software helps make all this easier while saving you time and money. Sign up for a free demo below to see how Womply has helped businesses like yours increase revenue by 20%, see 22% more repeat customers, and save 10 hours of time per week.

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