Q: How can independent retailers make the most of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday this year?

A: There is no doubt that Black Friday will look a bit different in 2020. More retailers are electing to give their employees the day off, over 60% of shoppers say they will stay home and shop online and Amazon’s Prime Day was mid-October rather than mid-July. There are still a number of things a small, independent business can do to make the most out of this shopping time.

According to a Google survey, 66% of shoppers will shop more at local small businesses. This means plan early! It is important to evaluate your website and web shopping experience for what you offer that is unique. Do you offer delivery, discounts, loyalty points and immediate gratification with curbside pickup? Consumers know small businesses have been affected more by the pandemic than larger, national retailers. Many want to help. Start a loyalty program and give a small token of your appreciation when returning customers spend certain amounts. Customers love free things. Think about working with other small businesses near yours by involving yourself in fall or holiday events. If there is not an event, start one with all the local businesses near yours.

Capitalize on Small Business Saturday with a special promotion, extra staff to help with service, and use social media, or print fliers and posters, to spread the word. Remind consumers of the importance of small business in their communities. Small businesses help communities thrive.

Consumers will look for safer ways to buy this year with 47% of planned shoppers buying online, picking up in-store or curbside. Be ready to meet those needs. Advertise those services in advance of holiday shopping, which allows your customers to plan ahead knowing they are able to patronize your store safely.

Consumers also plan to shop during less volume-heavy times to avoid crowds. Maybe offer sales that last longer than a weekend. It is predicted with Thanksgiving so late in 2020 that Black Friday sales will start earlier and last longer. Entice consumers to buy early by offering deals early into the holiday season. Don’t wait until Black Friday to catch those sales or they might be gone for good.


Kim Sovell is on faculty at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.