The dirty Thanksgiving dishes have been washed, visiting family members have all gone home, and holiday decorations are starting to light neighborhood streets.
It’s the start of another joyous season, and everyone knows – including retailers – that holiday shopping season is now in full swing.
According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday Weekend lured and additional 21 million shoppers over last year, spending an estimated total of $59.1 billion, thanks in-part to the early Thursday hours that made the deals more accessible to those who don't want to go shopping at 3 a.m..
Cyber Monday also reported positive numbers with sales up by 17 percent over 2011, according to a report.
Whether shoppers are getting their gifts at a chain department store, online, or even small local shops during what's become known as Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving), so far the season is looking good for retailers.
Claudia Maceo, the manager of The Twig Book Shop at the Pearl, is happy more people are making an effort to shop at their local stores.
"The buy local thing is something I really do hear people talk about,” she said at her store Saturday. “I know a lot of people value our customer service, the way that we do carefully buy books with our customers in mind. We pay a lot of attention to what they want."
Maceo also credits local shops for specializing in personal service that is missing at a lot of bigger chain stores.
"I think variety, variety,” said Wal-Mart store Manager Scott Redman about what his store offers customers. “We've got a huge variety here within the store - Wal-Mart in general. I think customer service. I think that's the key thing to it."
Redman is the manager at the Jones Maltsberger location, and said that, at least at his store, the numbers are up, both in customer count and sales. Competitive prices help the items fly off the shelves, and Redman thinks consumer confidence is up at the right time.
"They're not just buying basics. It's not just our consumable areas,” he said. We're seeing some of our gift-giving areas, some of our goods that are typically considered luxuries; we're up in those departments as well, like electronics."
"Sometimes it can be fun and other times it's challenging,” said Wal-Mart customer Anthony Medina who is getting ready for Christmas.
Medina said Wal-Mart is his store of choice because it has everything he needs under one roof.
With all the competition between stores, customers may be surprised to learn that, at least for Maceo, the big stores aren’t so much a threat as they are a way to get people to the stores.
The Twig Book Shop regularly hosts author signings, poetry readings and other specialized events, but Maceo said big stores - even Barnes and Noble - are good for her business, too. As people head out to shop, they will likely select a combination of big box stores and small businesses to patron.
It’s a welcomed and unlikely partnership that Maco hopes will be maintained over the course of the holiday shopping season, where sales aren’t guaranteed to remain as hot as they started.
- Read the National Retail Federation's findings at: www.nrf.com