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While Black Friday may still summon to mind images of eager, pre-dawn crowds surging through malls or big box stores like Best Buy, Macy’s, or Walmart, the post-Thanksgiving shopping blitz may also represent an unexpected but considerable boost to small shops and retailers across Connecticut.
A new study by small business software company Womply, which examined transactional data through 2017, found that the shopping holiday was the 10th best day of the year for independent retailers in the state.
By comparison, Small Business Saturday, which started as a promotion by American Express in 2010, came in at No. 122, far behind both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving, when shoppers search retailers’ online catalogues and e-commerce sites like Amazon for deals.
Cyber Monday placed 36th in busiest shopping days in the state over all.
Small businesses brought in, on average, $3,465 on Black Friday last year, 71.1 percent better than their average day, the report says. On Cyber Monday, meanwhile, local retailers generated about $2,824, while on Small Business Saturday, the take was around $2,332.
The figures show that small businesses may have become increasingly adept at redirecting some of the buzz surrounding Black Friday for their own benefit, even as the traditional beneficiaries of the shopping bonanza see a dip in numbers.
According to a study by advertising technology company OpenX, six in 10 shoppers feel overwhelmed by the rush of Black Friday and plan to skip it altogether, while about half of all consumers feel that there may be better deals on offer at other, less publicized times of the year.
Black Friday promotions — which for some stores now start in the evening hours of Thanksgiving and last through the following weekend — have long been considered the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, with retailers reporting a steady rise in revenues from this week on until the end of December. In Connecticut, all of the top five shopping days and the top three sales weeks of 2017 came during the November-December holiday rush, Womply researchers found.
According to the report, the week immediately preceding Christmas, Dec. 17-23, was the best week for local retailers in the state, with sales up 179 percent. In 2017, the second-best week for small businesses was Nov. 26-Dec. 2, with sales 151 percent higher than the typical week, followed by Dec. 10-16, which saw sales up 145 percent over the average.
That trend is mirrored at the national level.
The week before Christmas, researchers said, was the single best sales week in 39 states, and placed in the top three weeks of 84 percent of small retailers across the nation.
The study also found that procrastinators and last-minute shoppers appear to be in good company — the busiest day of the year for retailers in 2017 was Dec. 23, the Saturday before Christmas, when revenues reached 140 percent over the average day.
Despite broader shopping trends, however, some business owners in the region said Small Business Saturday has taken on a special importance to them over the years.
Customers make a point of turning out in a way they wouldn’t for the less personalized big box shopping experience, they said, and the focus is less on securing good deals on clothes and electronics than supporting the business community in their own neighborhoods and towns.
Megan Piorek, owner of candles and home goods store Candle Threads in East Windsor, said she puts more emphasis on the Saturday after Thanksgiving by putting together activities for kids and bringing in cider-flavored donuts for shoppers.
“Small Business Saturday is huge for us,” Piorek said. “I have a very small space, but on that day I’ve had to bring in extra help to manage everything.”