Published : Wednesday, November 21, 2018 | 5:37 AM
Experts are expecting the biggest-ever Black Friday and Cyber Monday this week and next with as much as $90 billion in sales nationwide, but it remains to be seen how much of those dollars will end up being spent at local retailers, as opposed to their ever-growing array of online competitors.
By slashing prices, focusing on customer service, holding pre-Black Friday sales or even wading into the online marketplace themselves, Pasadena businesses are looking for ways to lure shoppers into their stores, and away from their computer or cell phone screens, longtime Pasadena businessman and Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Member Ishmael Trone said.
“They’re coming up with any type of incentive to get you to come into the store versus go online,” he said.
“They have to get creative because Cyber Monday is right after Black Friday,” he said, adding “these retailers are smart” because they know shoppers are actually doing Christmas shopping much earlier than ever.
An estimated 40 percent of the revenue from the entire shopping season will be spent over the coming week, Salesforce Head of Consumer Insights Rick Kenney told Forbes. That compares with 32 percent last year.
Shopping via mobile device continues to grow by leaps and bounds, he said, calling mobile devices “the most disruptive force on retail since the advent of e-commerce.”
“Shoppers have more choice than ever,” Kenney told Forbes. “They actually prefer to buy from retailers because of customer service, and those that differentiate on service are thriving, while those that have no or little service proposition are challenged or failing.”
Nearly 75 percent of Americans are expected to take part in the shopping frenzy, whether online or in-person, with the average adult spending $483, an analysis by finder.com said.
Despite the challenges posed by the changing nature of the retail market, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek said he believes retsailers are upbeat.
“I think they’re looking forward to a big season,” he said. “People are prepared to spend money, and Pasadena needs the business and the jobs and the taxes that are associated with it. So we’re very optimistic.”
“Now, it is true that in some instances, people go to a store and they shop the item and then they may go out and order it online, but for the most part, I think that the merchants realize what a competitive environment they’re in and so they are able to offer prices that do compete with the online sales,” the Mayor added.
Pasadena Economic Development Manager Eric Duyshart joined the chorus of voices urging Pasadenans to shop locally.
“Enjoy the shopping experience in an authentic shopping environment, and Pasadena has many of those,” he said. “Maybe try two or three businesses that you would not otherwise have tried in Pasadena.”
There’s no shortage of variety, he added.
“Pasadena has so many different commercial districts,” Duyshart said. “Pasadena shoppers have lots of options available.”
Many local retailers are also taking to the internet themselves, he said.
“Certainly retailers know they need to have an online presence. And in Pasadena, we are fortunate to have a wonderful variety of local and national retailers. There are a range of online options, too, for those local retailers.”
Sales tax revenue from online purchases from Pasadena business also ends up going to the city, Duyshart explained. The money is first collected in a County pool, then distributed among municipalities.
Pasadena Chamber of Commerce President Paul Little said the tradition of packing stores on the day after Thanksgiving is still going strong.
“The deals are there. People are no doubt going to be lining up at three in the morning to get great deals on flat-screen TVs and computers and everything else,” he said.
But with the shifting marketplace, few are expecting sales at brick-and-mortar stores to grow over last year, Little said. Not losing ground would be a success.
“I think, optimistically, they’re hoping things hold steady,” he said. “There are so many more online retailers and opportunities that just chip away slowly at the customer base of brick and mortar stores.”