The pandemic is likely dampening the usual Black Friday excitement.
A High Point University survey this month found fewer North Carolinians are planning on shopping Friday than last year.
Nearly three quarters of the North Carolina residents that pollsters asked said COVID-19 was influencing their shopping plans – at least a little. Only 31% of those polled said they'd shop on the day after Thanksgiving this year. In the survey before Black Friday last year, 38% had said they'd shop.
And analysts at High Point say the pandemic has accelerated the shift away from brick-and-mortar stores. 44% in this year's poll are planning to do most of their shopping online. On average, the shoppers surveyed expected to spend a bit more on the holidays in 2020 – over a thousand dollars.
While the number of Black Friday shoppers is expected to decrease, small business owners are hoping folks will still come out to spend on Saturday, showing strong local support for "Small Business Saturday.”
The unofficial shopping holiday is especially important this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused small businesses severe financial strain. Many shops were closed for months by executive orders this spring.
Andy Ellen is the president of North Carolina Retail Merchants Association. He described this Saturday as a “make or break” day for many businesses trying to get back on their feet.
“This fourth quarter, this holiday season, this Small Business Saturday – it's very important to a lot of them to make it out on the other side of the pandemic and be there in their communities to provide jobs and support their communities so it's really important on Saturday that people go out and support them,” Ellen said.
Some towns - including Carrboro, Hillsborough and Selma - are heavily promoting "Small Business Saturday".
Ellen added that small businesses are trying new ways to reach customers where they are, including offering home delivery and curbside pickup for products.
"Small businesses are the fabric of their community,” Ellen said. “They're the backbone of their community that again sponsor the little league team and the high school band and the play and they employ your neighbors and it's important that those businesses - that they don't go dark."