Local shops contend for a slice of Black Friday weekend sales

Holiday shopping continued at a brisk pace Saturday as customers nationwide scoured big chain stores for more Black Friday weekend deals and discounts, made online purchases and turned some of their attention to neighborhood boutiques and other small businesses.

Retailers reported strong sales on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

On Saturday, a preliminary report showed sales totaling $11.2 billion on Black Friday, slightly down from the $11.4 billion spent on the same day last year, said Bill Martin of research firm ShopperTrak.


But the figures don’t include Thanksgiving night sales. Retailers who opened on Thanksgiving night pulled away sales that typically would have occurred the next morning, he said. On Sunday the National Retail Federation will release its own closely watched Black Friday figures.

“Overall it was a relatively good foundation for the start of the shopping season,” Martin said.

Online sales Friday jumped 20.7% over the same day last year, according to a study from IBM. That beat the growth of Web sales on Thanksgiving Day, which increased 17.4% from the 2011 holiday.

On Saturday, small businesses went for their share of the weekend spending spree with what is becoming known as Small Business Saturday.

Launched by American Express in 2010, it is a nationwide effort to support mom-and-pop shops on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. The hope is that shoppers weary of packed malls and snarled traffic will open their wallets at local stores, which rolled out promotions in the hopes of wooing customers.

The event has high-profile supporters, including President Obama, who took his two daughters to an independent bookstore in Arlington, Va., on Saturday.

In Highland Park, shoppers walking into Pop-Hop Books & Print stepped on a mat that read “Welcome to Small Business Saturday.”

The shop, which redecorated for the day and also stocked up on extra merchandise, handed out free tote bags to customers who spent $50 or more, said Betty Balcomb, a bookshop worker and mother of one of the owners.

Balcomb said although the bookstore was open for Black Friday, they didn’t make a big deal out of it.

“We didn’t really promote it, because we didn’t really want to be part of Black Friday,” she said, adding that there were no “fisticuffs” at the store, unlike some mass merchants that saw brawls break out as shoppers elbowed each other for bargains.

Shoppers Rebecca and Robb Epifano walked out of the store with a nutcracker figurine and children’s book for their two sons, Asher and Ezra. Both were in full support of a day dedicated solely to supporting local businesses instead of huge retailers.

“Considering we bought into this neighborhood” a year ago, Robb Epifano said, “we like to support the neighborhood businesses as well.”

In Silver Lake, at a boutique called Yolk, owner Maria Neuman said that by noon she had already talked to a few shoppers who were partly motivated to browse because of Small Business Saturday.

“People have come in because they heard about it,” she said.

To entice customers, the clothing and decor shop was offering 20% off children’s apparel and holiday ornaments, along with 15% off jewelry.

Neuman said she was confident that her regular customers wouldn’t be too tired from hitting the malls for door-buster deals.

“There’s one person who gets up at 2 a.m. for a big screen TV,” she said, “and another who will go out and shop local businesses.”