Florida Businesses Hoping For A Black Friday Revival
Many businesses devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic are relying on Holiday sales this year to keep afloat. But Black Friday is known for drawing large crowds, presenting health risks when coronavirus cases are spiking across the country. Now, owners are trying to adapt.
Katie Haggerty runs Quarter Moon Imports, a gift shop in Tallahassee. She says Black Friday is the start of the Christmas season, a crucial time for her business.
"People come to us throughout the entire year for birthday gifts and different holiday gifts, like Valentine's Day and stuff like that, but Christmas season is a huge gift-giving season, so that's our major time," Haggerty says.
Her business closed for about a month and a half due to a pandemic lockdown, resulting in a significant sales drop.
"And then when we opened back up, everybody was still staying safe at home, that was a really difficult time for us financially, but we got through it," Haggerty says.
She's now preparing for Black Friday. Haggerty hopes to cut down on crowds by offering deals throughout the Black Friday weekend.
"So, it will be Friday through Saturday and Sunday. And hopefully, having it all weekend long will relieve the stress from people trying to get there early and all at once. We're also planning on having some things outside to ease the burden of having lots of people in the store," Haggerty says.
And it's not just Haggerty extending Black Friday deals, but other businesses too. Scott Shalley is President and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. He says some retailers are spreading sales throughout November.
"To try to attract shoppers but not have the crowded situations that we've seen in the past with traditional Black Fridays," Shalley says.
He says November and December generally account for 20% of retailer's income, but some sectors rely more heavily on those months. Shalley says pandemic-related lockdowns will make the holiday season a definitive moment for many retailers.
“There's definitely going to be some casualties as a result of the pandemic, but our retailers have proven to be really resilient, so we're hoping that that's minimal," Shalley says.
Luke Hopkins has been a consultant for First Commerce, Chick-Fil-A, and other businesses. He says there's a lot of uncertainty about whether customers will come out to stores this holiday season due to health concerns. But over the past few years, he says there's been a significant shift to online shopping for Black Friday.
"This year, you're just going to see even more of a push towards those that may be a little more reluctant to shop online or those who really got a lot of the value out of the experience shopping the day after Thanksgiving, whether it's tradition or whether it's the benefits of going in and being able to touch products or find that deal that's placed at the front of the store. I think a decent portion of that segment of the population is going to get pushed over into those who are buying more e-commerce or shopping online," Hopkins says.
He says economic hardship will also play a role in customer turnout.
"I think they're a lot of people, a lot of households asking questions about employment. And their current state of employment and if they are still employed, is that going to continue? Is that going to change? So that's going to cause some hesitation," Hopkins says.
This Black Friday could be the most important one in a long time. According to the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, one in five small business owners think they won't be around in six months if things don't turn around soon.