Holiday shopping season begins in Texoma

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
A small crowd waits outside the Sherman Best  Buy prior to its opening on Black Friday.

For the many businesses across the country, the day after Thanksgiving — commonly called Black Friday — has become the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, with high profits for retailers and sales along with deals for consumers. Historically, the name came from the fact that the high sales traffic would cause many retailers to reach profitability, or move into the black, for the year.

More recently, the shopping weekend has been expanded to encompass other days including Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

"Traffic started early. We had a good group come through at 5 a.m. and it has been steady since," Sherman Academy Sports & Outdoors Store Director Chris Mitchell said. "The customers have been coming in happy and upbeat, so it has been a good day."

The National Retail Federation estimates that that more than 158.3 million people are expected to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, with 108 million on Black Friday and 30.6 million on the Thanksgiving holiday.

For retailers, the November and December could see anywhere from $843.4 billion to $859 billion in sales with the average shopper spending $997.73, the NRF said.

However, many stores in Texoma, including Academy, were closed for the Thanksgiving, similar to 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, many stores opened before dawn Friday around 5 a.m. to a small crowd of dedicated bargain seekers. Other storefronts decided to sleep in following the holiday festivities and opened their doors around 7 a.m. to larger crowds.

The smaller early crowds may be due to a trend of shoppers doing their purchases and retailers starting sales earlier in the month.

“Shopping early is a trend we’ve seen for years and it began long before the pandemic,”  Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy for Prosper Insights and Analytics said.

Prosper Insights is a partner of the NRF. 

Black Friday shoppers file into the Sherman Target just after dawn Friday morning.

“While some consumers like the thrill of last-minute shopping and others just procrastinate, many prefer the comfort of having the shopping done early so they can relax and enjoy the season," he continued.

Mitchell said Academy also started its sales early when it released some Black Friday deals last Sunday. However, some deals were saved exclusively for the shopping holiday itself.

Despite this trend, Mitchell said his store saw strong foot traffic Friday, with dozens of shoppers seeking deals on basketball goals, firepits and other sale items.

For smaller retailers, Saturday is bigger than Friday

While many shoppers will crowd larger retailers on Friday, smaller, local businesses are hoping to get their share of the holiday traffic on Saturday during the 12th annual Small Business Saturday.  The shopping holiday dedicated to smaller retailers was first launched in 2010 with the backing of American Express.

In Denison, downtown businesses are holding the eighth annual donut hole stroll on Saturday, with each business offering a tasting of donut holes to visitors to their storefronts. For Pop Around the Corner, this will be the sixth year that the popcorn shop has participated in the Small Business Saturday festivities.

Betty Clark looks at jewelry inside Under the Eiffel Boutique in Downtown Denison during Small Business Saturday in 2016.

"When we first opened up I didn't think it would be that big, but the community has really come together to support us," Owner Derek Roberts said.

For this year's festivities, Roberts is offering shoppers the opportunities to send gift boxes from Santa to their friends and family. The good boys and girls will be treated to some of Santa's favorite popcorn, while the naughty will receive a letter from Santa alongside some chocolate coal.

While the event doesn't always lead to a sale, Roberts said it gets people through the door of the shop and gives it greater exposure to the community and possible future sales.

"Saturday will almost be like fall fest is for us. I wouldn't be surprised if sales are three to four times a normal Saturday," he said.

Throughout the pandemic Roberts said the shop continued to see strong sales thanks to a robust ecommerce model. However, now shoppers are beginning to return to in-person sales, he said.

"We are getting a lot more local traffic looking on our website, seeing what they like and then coming in to pick up the product," he said.

However, the impacts of COVID-19 are still affecting the business, he said. In order to prepare for the shopping holiday, Roberts said he started stockpiling supplies and product in August due to supply shortages.

Meanwhile, Sherman is preparing for the second year of its Small Business Saturday festivities. Sarah Richardson, who owns Look A Likes helped organize downtown Sherman's event in 2020 following lackluster sales in 2019, the first year the boutique participated in Small Business Saturday.

Thankfully, many businesses did fare well in 2020, with Richardson describing that Saturday as the third biggest sales day of the year.

This year, organizers have expanded the shopping event with 21 businesses offering later hours, live music, food and other promotions.

"I know everyone is still taking the necessary precautions, but I think people just want to have a littler fun and give back to the business community," she said.