(The Center Square) – With Illinois and the rest of the country dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the post-Thanksgiving shopping season was unlike any other.
Online sales soared during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
A survey by the National Retail Federation shows Black Friday shoppers surpassed the 100 million mark for the first time ever, which is an increase of 8% over last year.
“We knew the pandemic was going to impact in-store foot traffic and we anticipated that consumers would shift some of their shopping behavior online, and we certainly saw that,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF.
The number of online Saturday shoppers grew even more, up 17% compared with last year.
Norma Lansing, president and CEO of the Effingham Chamber of Commerce said Small Business Saturday was a success in the area.
“Our local businesses put in extra effort and put their best foot forward on Small Business Saturday, and I think it went very well,” Lansing said.
Tom Davenport, president and CEO of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, said shoppers went out and supported local businesses over the weekend.
“Especially the small ones that may not have had large crowds, places they have been before where they felt comfortable about social distancing, and I think overall people are pleased with their sales on Small Business Saturday,” Davenport said.
Davenport worries about a possible future stay-at-home order by Governor J.B. Pritzker. He said the move would be devastating to Carbondale businesses who rely on this time of year for Christmas shoppers.
Amazon is on the defensive. The company has been regularly criticized for destroying these types of businesses. Amazon said the record sales had a halo effect on small and medium-sized businesses that use the platform. Those online sellers brought in nearly $5 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday on Amazon, a 60% increase from last year.
It is getting more difficult to find local retailers to support. According to the website Illinois Policy, there were over 11,200 fewer Illinoisans running retail stores on Small Business Saturday, with COVID-19 and state-mandated lockdowns getting some of the blame.
Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Merchants Association, said even though online sales are up, people still went out to the brick-and-mortar stores.
“Online shopping increased nationwide, but it was still not quite half of the total sales, so people are still venturing out,” Karr said.