As we head into holiday shopping madness things are looking pretty cheery and bright for retailers: Unemployment is low, consumer confidence is at a 20-year high, and spending is up almost 5 percent over this time last year. These are all signs that the holiday shopping spend should be really healthy this year. So why is your email inbox overflowing with sale alerts and discount codes?
The constant in-your-face enticements to buy feel like a bit much to Los Angeles resident Kelly Stevens. "I’m not overwhelmed, I’m irritated," she laughed.
But she’s relieved, having always avoided breaking away from family to hunt down deals Thanksgiving weekend. Now she doesn’t have to, because the deals literally come to her.
Online — and in real life — it seems like we’ve gone from Black Friday to Black Friday weekend to Black November to Black Every-Minute-Of-Every-Day.
Katherine Cullen with the National Retail Federation says coming out of the recession shoppers got really savvy — maybe even relentless — about deal-hunting. "Consumers have the expectation that they can find items at the price that they want, almost whenever they want to shop," she said, citing the rise of e-commerce as making it easier than ever to find low prices all the time.
But in real neighborhoods all over the country, small businesses also want to get in on that holiday feeling — and spending. Many hope to lure shoppers next weekend during so-called Small Business Saturday, an effort by merchants to keep spending local.
Kara Taub, a member of the Montana Avenue Merchants Association, is organizing such an event in Santa Monica, California, to boost neighborhood businesses that struggle to compete with the deep discounts of retail giants.
"They want to offer more of an experience, provide that face time and have it be a more leisurely experience," she said.
Because sure, you can get a Roku stick online, but you might want to leave the house to find that artisanal bedazzled dog collar in just the right size.
Click the audio player above to hear the full story.