Stroll starts holiday shopping season
This year shoppers will have six fewer days during the traditional holiday season to get their shopping done.
“That makes it difficult for our fourth-quarter people,” said Patty Brown, Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce president.
Brown said many small, downtown businesses look to the fourth quarter to help make their numbers for the entire year.
The Holiday Stroll traditionally kicks off the shopping season in Red Wing, and businesses try to think of creative, unique ways to get shoppers into their stores, she said.
Typically, the Holiday Stroll brings anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 people to town, Brown said, adding it is difficult to get a precise number and the weather always plays a big factor.
Stores will have extended hours through Christmas, Brown said, but other than running some sales earlier, she is unaware of businesses doing anything differently to help offset the shorter season.
The National Retail Federation has projected holiday sales to rise almost 4 percent over the 3.5 percent increase in holiday sales in 2012, totaling just over $6 billion in sales this year.
In a preliminary survey of holiday shoppers released by the NRF, up to 140 million people said they plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend. That fell from the 147 million who planned to do so last year.
Nearly 25 percent of those surveyed said they planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day and almost 70 percent said they planned to shop on Black Friday.
Nearly half of shoppers said they will look to newspapers for information on upcoming sales, according to the NRF.
Today is also Small Business Saturday, a day set aside to celebrate and support small businesses across the country.
Gov. Mark Dayton signed a proclamation declaring Nov. 30 to be Small Business Saturday in Minnesota.
The proclamation states that 28 million small businesses exist in the United States and account for more than 99 percent of American companies.
“Small businesses create jobs, preserve city neighborhoods and small communities throughout Minnesota, and are essential to the future growth of our economy,” said Katie Clark Sieben, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner. “They are the bedrock of the state economy and deserving of this recognition."
Small Business Saturday was launched in 2010 by American Express and last year U.S. shoppers spent an estimated $5.5 billion at small, independent retailers.
Holiday shopping tips
The National Crime Prevention Council advises shoppers to have a plan for shopping during the holiday season and gives these tips for safe shopping:
1. Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
2. Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you are not familiar with it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
3. Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
4. Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
5. Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
6. Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
7. Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
8. Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
9. Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
10. If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.