Retailers throughout the Golden Isles are optimistic this will be a busy Christmas shopping season despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ralph Staffins III, president and CEO of Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, said small retailers in particular expect steady sales on Black Friday, through the weekend and beyond.
“It’s going to be a busy weekend to kick off the holiday shopping season,” he said. “Everyone I talk to is gearing up for a big weekend.”
Staffins said many small business owners have become more and more dependent on the internet for sales, which will make shoppers feel safer during a pandemic.
“Lots of our small retailers are online,” he said. “Our retailers are geared up for that.”
One noticeable difference this shopping season is the big box stores such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy that normally open Thanksgiving Day will be closed. There also will be fewer door busters that encourage long lines of people racing for the bargain items.
Stores crowded with extra employees and shoppers could be a public health concern. It’s likely some will limit capacity and require shoppers to register for a time slot to shop, according to industry analysts.
Many shoppers will opt for curbside service.
The hot items this year are home tech devices, earbuds, big-screen TVs, air fryers, and the always must-have, hard-to-find children’s toys for different age groups.
Retailers won’t spend all the weekend packaging online sales for shipping.
“We will still have plenty of in-person sales,” Staffins said. “We are promoting our ‘shop small’ campaign.”