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As Black Friday Shopping Trends Downward, Oklahoma Cities Encourage More Spending

A sign advertising Thanksgiving weekend hours hangs in a window at Hancock Fabrics in Edmond.
Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record
A sign advertising Thanksgiving weekend hours hangs in a window at Hancock Fabrics in Edmond.

It’s officially “Black Friday.”

The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year, but retail polling firm CivicScience expects to see 3 percent fewer people out shopping this year, which comes after down sales in 2014 as well.

CivicScience gathered data from 3,200 people about shopping on this day after Thanksgiving, and only 19 percent planned to seek out the best deal, according to The Journal Record's Molly Fleming:

“We’ve seen retailers making a lot of adjustments this year for consumers that are put off by large crowds and sentiments,” said Jennifer Sikora, consumer sentiments expert for CivicScience. The company collects its data from national TV, radio and newspaper websites. The polls are placed on the side of the site; they’re not the ones required to take before a story can be read. The company’s questions are placed on sites ranging from special interest publications to gossip columns. Sikora said retailers are offering sales throughout November and even online. Home Depot has been advertising earlier deals, and Wal-Mart will make most of its Friday sales available online.

Adam Brooks, The Journal Record's managing editor, said Black Friday has spread beyond brick-and-mortar retailers to become a multi-faceted, omni-channel event. Retailers are utilizing social media and turning the shopping day into a four-day weekend event, with catchy names like "Small Business Saturday" and "Cyber Monday."

"[Economist] Marc Leonard at Southwestern Oklahoma State University said it's so important, it's probably not going to go away. In fact, it's spreading," Brooks said. "We're seeing Black Friday in Canada, and in the UK. And [Leonard] noted that while online sales are growing, they still just make up one-third of retail, so things like doorbusters still really do matter to retailers."

Some cities are urging consumers to stay close to home for the holidays, largely due to the economic climate created by continued low energy prices. In Oklahoma, sales taxes are the primary way municipalities fund city services. In Oklahoma City, sales tax collections 3 percent off projections forced civic leaders to enact a hiring freeze, and find other ways to bring revenue in, The Journal Record's Brian Brus reports:

“Every dollar you spend in OKC helps strengthen our local economy and your city services,” according to a reminder that’s being sent to residents with their water utility bills. “The holiday shopping season is an important time of the year to keep that in mind. Sales tax is OKC’s primary source of revenue for police and fire services, street maintenance, parks and other services. Your sales tax helps us maintain and improve these services.” Bethany officials are planning a similar message ahead of end-of-year holiday shopping, Finance Director John Robinson said. City officials were expected to consider a special agenda item at Tuesday’s City Council meeting encouraging consumers to patronize local businesses. Bethany’s tax revenues were slightly behind the mark officials projected for October, he said.

Last year’s Deluxe Winter Market at Leadership Square in Oklahoma City.
Credit Provided
Last year’s Deluxe Winter Market at Leadership Square in Oklahoma City.

Momentary Merchants

For the past few years, "pop-up" shops have become enough of a staple in Oklahoma City to where they're practically a tradition - with online or home-based crafters selling their work in Midtown, or the Cox Convention Center.

"The organizers say that they're trying to make sure they have more variety this year. They're even bringing in some retailers from other parts of the state so that there's more to see," Brooks said. "And also usually by the week they rotate. So you go once, but you need to go back and see what new people have to offer."

Brooks said the trend seems to be working, with little tension between the pop-ups and the traditional retailers who are here the other 11 months a year.

"I think that probably everyone is going to be in favor of encouraging people to shop local and think about their local stores, rather than going to a big box retailer, or rather than just firing up Amazon," Brooks said. "Yelp.com did what it calls a 'gifting score,' which was based on their internal methodology, and they said Oklahoma City is the 6th-best place for local shopping."

The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.

As a community-supported news organization, KGOU relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

The Journal Record is a multi-faceted media company specializing in business, legislative and legal news. Print and online content is available via subscription.  

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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