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Here's What Shoppers Can Expect This Year

Charlotte Observer (November 2016) – Here they come: those holiday deal days when shoppers are expected to spend billions on gifts for friends and loved ones….and themselves.

Take your pick of preferred dates. There’s Thanksgiving Day, when shoppers skip the hot turkey dinner for retailers’ doorbuster deals on TVs, tablets and more that rival Black Friday offerings.

Small Business Saturday follows, preferred by those who want locally-made gifts and shopping without all the crowds.

Others hold out for Cyber Monday, known for retailers’ website deals on everything from drones to Fitbits. This Monday after Thanksgiving drew 121 million shoppers last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Even though all these days take some of the punch out of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving “remains the official kick-off to the holidays and an important tradition for millions of shoppers across the country,” retail federation spokeswoman Ana Serafin Smith said via email.

Consumers will spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday shopping season, according to the retail federation. And Black Friday remains the winning day during Thanksgiving weekend, according to Smith, drawing the most shoppers -- 74.2 million in 2015.

Overall, retail spending in November and December is expected to hit more than $655 billion this holiday season. Here’s a look at what stores and places are offering shoppers to draw them in on special shopping days.

Thanksgiving: While plenty of big retailers are continuing the trend of being open on Thanksgiving, others are bowing out, including appliance and electronics retailer HHGregg.

Part of the reason may be that turkey day shoppers aren’t showing up the way they once did. Thanksgiving Day drew 34.6 million shoppers in 2015, compared to 43.1 million in 2014 and 44.8 million in 2013, according to the retail federation.

Still, plenty of shoppers are expected to forego the hot dinner and football to line up for stores’ late-afternoon openings. “Thanksgiving will be the day to highlight special deals to bring in customers who are looking to get a head start on their holiday shopping,” Smith said.

Locally, several retailers will be open, including Belk, Target and Toys R Us, as well as shopping destinations Charlotte Premium Outlets, SouthPark and Concord Mills malls.

Black Friday: This day traditionally wins over the most Thanksgiving weekend shoppers, with 74.2 million hitting stores last year, according to the retail federation.

If you refuse to shop on Thanksgiving, this is the day to nab those big deals, “especially big ticketed items such as washer/dryers, TVs, etc.,” Smith said.

Many retailers also launch extended hours to draw in holiday shoppers.

Small Business Saturday: Local store owners shine on this spending holiday launched in 2010 and held the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

American Express, which created the day, again is teaming up with Historic South End in Charlotte, Belmont Merchant Association in Gaston, the downtown Concord shopping area and other small businesses on promotions.

South End will showcase more than 300 retailers, including many in pop-up shops, and offer free trolley rides for shoppers. Customers at any of downtown Concord’s 31 local stores will be entered to win $250 Concord shopping dollars.

Also, local entrepreneur Jane McElhaney’s “Charlotte Small Biz Support Squad” returns for a second year. She plans to drive around the area and surprise business owners with balloons, food, gifts and massages.

Cyber Monday: Typically the busiest day of the year for online shopping, online spending on Cyber Monday, which falls on Nov. 28 this year, is expected to jump to $3.5 billion from $3.12 billion last year, according to ComScore, which studies audience and marketing data.

Shoppers wait for this day to see what e-commerce deals retailers are showcasing, Smith said.

December 26: Some consumers will have a day off on this date, as their workplaces recognize this Monday after Christmas as the official holiday.

It remains to be seen if that will translate into a stronger in-store shopping day this year, Smith said.

However, “we know that it is important for retailers to move inventory as quickly as possible to make space for late winter/spring items,” Smith said.

“December 26 is traditionally known as the day that most retailers have low deals and offers on holiday or winter-themed items that didn’t (sell)...during the holiday shopping period.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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