Black Friday doesn’t have the same draw that it used to have even a few years ago, but it still sets the tone for shoppers looking for the big sales.
Plenty of retailers are gearing up for Thanksgiving and Black Friday events, with a steady stream of doorbuster sales on both days. As online shopping becomes more dominant and consumers bank on the idea that there will be plenty of sales up to Dec. 24, Thanksgiving/Black Friday appears to have lost a bit of luster. A new survey from Washington State University’s Carson College of Business indicates nearly 65 percent of Pacific Northwest residents are planning to skip Black Friday, with 60 percent saying they can get deals anywhere, anytime besides Black Friday.
“With Black Friday historically being such a crucial time for retailers, it is fascinating to see consumer interest in this shopping day drop dramatically,” said David Sprott, Carson College senior associate dean. “Our survey found that consumers no longer view Black Friday as a pinnacle moment in holiday shopping.”
Retailers are not giving up, offering deep discounts particularly in electronics like televisions and laptop computers. A big push this year is the 4K television, which is here to stay because it is now in the $300 range, said Dev Shapiro of Gottadeal.com, which tracks retail sales. Other products that are expected to be moving this holiday season include appliances like Instant Pot, board games and home automation/security products, he added.
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While online companies like Amazon.com are providing plenty of disruption for national retailers this holiday season, local businesses continue to focus on creating positive personal experiences to bring in customers. Paul Hanson, co-owner of Village Books, understands customers have a choice to get books online, but there are also people that value the holiday experience. The rest of the sales are to customers who want that personal connection, whether it is talking to one of the owners, or an employee, about books. Or its about enjoying the festive atmosphere a longtime bookstore can offer.
“It’s my favorite time of year because I can get out from behind the desk and talk to people,” Hanson said, adding he and co-owners Kelly Evert and Sarah Hutton plan on chatting with customers at both the Fairhaven and Lynden stores every day during the holidays.
Other local businesses have noticed that the holiday shopping season has already started. At ModSock in downtown Bellingham, owner Urania Shaklee sensed customers were starting their holiday shopping and put out her Christmas-themed socks two weeks earlier than usual and didn’t hear a complaint.
A store that focuses on socks seems like an anomaly in a retail climate that focuses on offering a wide range of products, but ModSock seems to work this to its advantage. It offers more than 1,500 styles, including its own brand, that has created a regular following from people expecting new themes each year.
“I think there is a certain pride with some customers about having a brand of socks in Bellingham,” said Shaklee, who noted that some customers enjoy providing suggestions that show up on a pair of socks the following year.
For those just getting started on holiday shopping, Shapiro suggests figuring out specific gifts to buy and then monitor websites for the sales, which will continue in the weeks following Black Friday. He also said to check out the websites of the specific brand, because sometimes they can offer deals that are even better than the mainstream sites.
“Retailers want your money until the very last minute,” he said.
OPENING STORE TIMES
A look at the scheduled openings of some Whatcom County retailers, based on information compiled by BestBlackFriday.com and local sources. Check the ads or company websites to confirm starting times.
Thursday, Nov. 23
▪ 6 a.m. Kmart
▪ 7 a.m. Big Lots!
▪ 8 a.m. 2020 Solutions
▪ 2 p.m. JC Penney
▪ 4 p.m. GameStop
▪ 5 p.m. Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s.
▪ 6 p.m. Michaels, Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods.
▪ Bellis Fair doors open 6 p.m. to midnight, but stores are not required to be open.
Friday, Nov. 24
▪ 5 a.m. Fred Meyer
▪ 6 a.m. Bellis Fair, Office Depot/Office Mac, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s, Home Depot
▪ 7 a.m. Harbor Freight tools, PetSmart, Petco, Burlington clothing store, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx
▪ 9 a.m. Costco
▪ Many businesses throughout Whatcom County also will be participating in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25. In downtown Bellingham, stores will be offering discounts and a passport program that involves prize giveaways.
SEASONAL STORES AT BELLIS FAIR
Bellis Fair mall has several seasonal tenants that start around Thanksgiving and finish up around Christmas. Here is the list of this year’s vendors:
Bayside Treasures, Bethlehem Crafts, Costco, Go! Calendars, Hickory Farms, Just Cozy, LED Canvas, Metal Man, PolarX and Squishies.
After a successful community fundraiser, Fairhaven Winterfest is not only back, it has some added features.
Winterfest kicks off at 3 p.m. Friday with the arrival of Santa Claus at the Fairhaven gazebo. At 5 p.m., the district will have a holiday artwalk and open house.
Saturday’s events include horse-drawn covered wagon rides and musicians. New features include the holiday market at the Village Green and a “Find the Elves” treasure hunt.
Details can be found at fairhavenwinterfest.com.
RESTAURANTS COME UP WITH THEIR OWN EVENTS
Restaurants are planning events as well this week. Here are a couple of examples:
▪ The three Jalapeños Mexican Restaurants and Luna’s Bistro are bringing back the annual cash discount day to thank customers the day before Thanksgiving.
The three Mexican restaurants and Luna’s are offering 50 percent off the total bill to customers who pay cash on Nov. 22. It’s the sixth year owner Jesse Cantu is doing the pre-Thanksgiving cash discount.
▪ MOD Pizza is having its annual Spreading MODness week on Tuesday with the goal of providing 500,000 meals to children struggling with hunger. For every MOD and Mega-sized pizza sold between Nov. 21-26, MOD will donate $1 to Generosity Feeds, a nonprofit committed to ending childhood hunger. The Seattle-based restaurant chain has an eatery in Bellingham’s Barkley Village.