Baton Rouge retailers ramp up online, longer-lasting sales deals for Black Friday

    Baton Rouge retailers are gearing up for one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year this Black Friday, with longer-running, and increasingly online, sales.

    With a shorter period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than last, many local retailers have already started Black Friday sales, says Dan Rice, an LSU marketing professor and director of the university’s marketing graduate program, in a prepared statement. 

    Some retailers have also cut back store hours for their in-store sales, Rice notes, with some not opening at all Thursday night or Friday, largely because of the continued gains of internet sales. While most areas of retail are expecting an increase over last year’s sales, the percentages for online sales as a whole are increasing at a rate somewhere around three times the overall sales predicted by the National Retail Federation.

    The trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by the 65 local sellers participating in eBay’s Retail Revival program, some of which are advertising Black Friday deals on the e-commerce platform. These include Southern Marsh, Woolly Threads, and Capital Area Corporate Recycling Council.

    Some small businesses are launching specific product pieces or lines for the holidays to differentiate their product portfolio,” says Ashley Settle, eBay spokeswoman, of this year’s Black Friday trends. “Some of it is holiday-related and some of it introduces a new element.”

    Mom-and-pop stores view the program as a way to open up a new revenue stream on the high-traffic shopping day. Rather than offer in-store Black Friday sales, program participant Time Warp Boutique is focusing solely on its online presence for special promotional deals, which will last through Cyber Monday. The vintage clothing boutique expects to see strong sales over the weekend, says owner Josh Holder.

    “Whenever we started it, we wanted to generate 10% of whatever we did a month in our store, but for the last two months, we’ve exceeded that amount,” says Holder, adding Time Warp is also running a Small Business Saturday promotion in-store.

    A broader industry push toward going “phygital” has affected big-box retailers like the Mall of Louisiana, says general manager Jacob Wilson. For the past few years, the mall has opened on Thanksgiving from 6 p.m. to midnight, giving retailers a chance to collect more in-store sales during the optional six-hour event, in which Wilson expects 75-80% of the mall’s tenants to participate.

    “We see more people on that day than we would see on a very busy Saturday,” he says.

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