Retailers throughout DeSoto County were excited for the start of holiday shopping season, while at the same time hopeful that a surge in shopping will help put some extra “jingle” in their cash registers.
At many locations, especially the “big box” stores such as Walmart and Target, shoppers quickly finished off their Thanksgiving Day dinners with their stores as destinations for early discounts and bargains, as those stores opened up early in the evening, extending Black Friday into Thursday.
The influx of shoppers continued on to the actual Black Friday of savings along DeSoto County main streets and to the shopping centers, such the Tanger Outlets Southaven and Southaven Towne Center malls.
“Shoppers are definitely ready to discover the best deals!” said Tanger Outlets General Manager Lexi Harris. “Here at Tanger Outlets we have seen many throughout the past month, getting their holiday shopping started early. With over 65 retailers here at Tanger, we have something for everyone on the shopping list in one convenient stop.”
A report from Forbes Magazine noted that Black Friday Weekend forecasts were for 47-percent growth in sales this year compared to last year.
DeSoto County business leaders had not yet reported any results as far as their actual Black Friday sales were concerned.
However, county chambers of commerce were hopeful that much of the projected increase would come by shoppers entering and supporting small businesses in what has now been termed as Small Business Saturday.
It’s part of a national Chamber of Commerce effort to promote shopping and supporting those stores where fewer than 10 people have jobs and major corporations are not the owners, but rather live in DeSoto County locations.
Estimates are that 17 million sole proprietors are in the United States.
“Small Business Saturday is an effort to support small business,” noted Southaven Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carmen Kyle. “Small business creates jobs and in job creation, it makes our community strong.”
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an estimated 112 million Americans shopped at small businesses and independent restaurants during Small Business Saturday in 2016. American Express reported that total number of shoppers spent about $15.4 billion that day.
“Small businesses are the engine of our country,” Kyle noted. “The numbers of small businesses in our nation are huge. The vast majority of those have fewer than 10 employees. That really is what drives Southaven and DeSoto County.”
All four Chambers of Commerce made a special push to help encourage and entice shoppers to spend some of their dollars away from the big box stores, but rather visit and spend at locally-owned retailers.
“Anytime you shop local, you are supporting a family,” said Kyle. “When they’re supporting families, those families pay taxes, people are employed and it all goes back. It goes back to infrastructure, it goes back to the ability for the municipalities to provide quality of life.”
All stores will be challenged by, not only Black Friday, but also by what is now termed as Cyber Monday, when experts say many shoppers will turn to internet purchases instead of walking through the doors of a retailer.
Many reports indicate Cyber Monday sales are now challenging Black Friday deals for online sales.
However, those same reports reflect a continuing push to buy gifts into the Christmas holiday, especially for the next two weeks.
Local shop owners hope shoppers will consider their stores this holiday season as destinations, noting that all the deals won’t be found only in the malls, but also on Main Street.
Kyle said shopping local helps improve everyone’s bottom line and quality of life.
“Whether it’s Snowden Grove Park, the tennis facilities or just being able to fix potholes in the street, all of that is derived from tax dollars,” Kyle said. “When you shop local, it does more than just that. It provides jobs and quality of life.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.