More than 50 million consumers are expected to shop this Saturday, Nov. 24 specifically to support small, local businesses on what has become known as Small Business Saturday. Carroll County, for the third straight year, is offering its passport program to incentivize patronizing local businesses.
Two Towson shopping centers, Towson Town Center and The Shops at Kenilworth, are gearing up for busy holiday shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and later in December at Kenilworth, there will be "Procrastinators Night."
It has evolved into the biggest single day for sales in the holiday season for some independent businesses, and one of the biggest days for others. Increased shopper traffic – much of it generated by publicity from the giant credit card issuer and by community and business associations -- pays off in other ways too. It attracts new customers who otherwise wouldn't think to patronize smaller shops and reminds residents about locally owned shops in their own backyards.
Downtown Bel Air was bustling with holiday shoppers Saturday as people took advantage of post-Thanksgiving deals and made an effort to patronize independently-owned businesses for Small Business Saturday.
The "Shop Small" campaign started six years ago as an American Express-created "holiday" to get consumers to think about patronizing, independent local establishments during the Black Friday weekend. This year, neighborhoods and businesses throughout the Baltimore region participated in special events and promotions.
Businesses were working hard to get customers to their stores, at a time when Black Friday gets diluted by online shopping, new "holidays" like Small Business Saturday and more scattered opening times.
Kids home from school, and some adults home from work, might not have ventured out into the Laurel streets lightly dusted with snow, but the weather Monday was just right for Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot to do some holiday shopping.
Shopping holidays have their place, but the business textbook basics – quality product, effective promotion, prominent placement and reasonable price – will always carry the day when it comes to attracting and keeping customers, long after the hype has faded.
Despite extra time to shop as more retailers opened for business on Thanksgiving Day, consumers spent less money this year during the first four days of the official start of the holiday shopping season, according to figures released Sunday by the National Retail Federation.
Scores of independent merchants in the Baltimore area did their part Saturday to get the "Shop Small" message out for the fourth annual Small Business Saturday. American Express launched the initiative four years ago to help small shops compete with national chains and online sellers during the traditional kickoff weekend to the holiday retail season.
Harford County holiday shoppers may have flooded local retailers Thanksgiving evening and Friday morning for traditional Black Friday sales, but there will be plenty of great pre-Christmas deals to choose from in the shops along the main downtown streets of Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace during Small Business Saturday.
Experts predicted that 33 million Americans planned to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day, and Baltimore-area shoppers were no exception. Many Marylanders hit the stores in between Thanksgiving dinners and the nighttime Ravens-Steelers game.
By By Pamela Wood, Alison Knezevich, Jamie Smith Hopkins and Lorraine Mirabella and The Baltimore Sun