Small Businesses May Face Even More Competition on Black Friday

Many small business owners have learned over the past several years that competition for consumer interest during the holiday shopping season is getting more cutthroat all the time. And increasingly, that means a greater focus on reaching those shoppers as early in the season as possible.

In recent years, stores have taken to trying to reach customers as the holiday shopping season begins in earnest by opening earlier in the day on Black Friday, and even on Thanksgiving itself, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Their competitors, in turn, have opened slightly earlier than that, and sweetened the deals they offer to early-bird shoppers. This creates a vicious cycle in some ways, and it’s expected that retailers will open earlier still this November, in hopes of reaching more people.

“The No. 1 topic of discussion [for retailers] is what to do to drive sales,” Joel Bines, managing director and co-leader of consulting firm AlixPartners’ retail practice, told the newspaper. “You’ll see retailers come up with all sorts of tactics. It’s going to be an extremely challenging holiday.”

Why so desperate?
The reason that companies are hoping to seize upon these consumer urges so eagerly this year is that it seems there isn’t going to be as much money going around, the report said. While sales are still expected to grow between 3.2 percent and 3.8 percent, the fact is that these steps forward aren’t as considerable as those seen in the last decade or so, which averaged 5.1 percent (when excluding the downturn in 2008).

Recent polls have found that, when trying to combat this, retailers are coming up with many methods for grabbing shoppers’ attentions, the report said. In all, 53 percent said they’re going to plan holiday promotions as early as September, compared with just 35 percent that said the same last year. Another 76 percent said they had no plans to cut the number of deals they offered to shoppers, while 61 percent responded similarly last year.

Owners who want to make sure their companies are adequately prepared for the rigors of the holiday shopping season might be able to do so by finding more affordable small business insurance. That’s because cutting costs of any type – including those for necessary coverage like consultant insurance – could end up saving companies thousands of dollars annually which can then be devoted to other aspects of the company.