Look out, Black Friday. Here comes Super Saturday.
Though Black Friday gets much of the hype and attention, the lesser known powerhouse that is the last Saturday before Christmas is also a force to be reckoned with. Super Saturday is so formidable, in fact, that it has outdone Black Friday on more than one occasion.
And it may do so again this year.
Super Saturday brings procrastinators out en masse. It's also a popular day with male shoppers, college students home for the holidays and anyone crossing those last few items off their Christmas lists.
Retailers typically extend their hours on the last Saturday before Christmas. But this year, the last Saturday falls on Christmas Eve, when retailers often close early, and many shoppers' holiday celebrations are already well underway. So retail analysts have declared Super Saturday will technically happen this weekend.
Equipped with the day off from work and motivated by the looming deadline, shoppers hit the stores and buy with abandon. Retailers welcome the crush of customers, who keep cash registers ringing and consistently make Super Saturday one of the biggest shopping days of the year, if not the biggest.
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Lexi Furlong owns Blush Boutique, which has three locations in Orchard Park, Williamsville and the Elmwood Village. She offers additional promotions on Super Saturday, and her customers show a sense of urgency she doesn't see the rest of the year, she said.
"They come in on a mission," she said. "They're quick."
Though she's happy with her current numbers, she said it's still important to ring up lots of sales on Super Saturday.
"Once January and February come around it gets slow," Furlong said. "You've gotta end strong so you're not stuck with lots of inventory.
Last year, while Black Friday sales dropped 12 percent, Super Saturday sales rose 4 percent to $55 billion, according to retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. The year before, Super Saturday beat Black Friday in terms of both sales and traffic, according to MasterCard data company APT.
This year, at least one data firm has predicted Super Saturday will beat Black Friday again. California-based RetailNext tracks retail shopper traffic. Its predictions for the busiest shopping days of the year show Super Saturday at the top of the list in terms of foot traffic, followed by Black Friday and the Friday before Christmas. In terms of sales, it predicts the Friday before Christmas will be the biggest day, followed by Super Saturday and then Black Friday.
The reason Black Friday got bumped, according to RetailNext, is twofold: The kickoff to the holiday retail season has shifted to Thanksgiving, and stores offer Black Friday deals as early as months before Christmas.
"It really pilfers away traffic and sales from other days," said Shelley E. Kohan, Retail Next's vice president of retail consulting.
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Super Saturday has largely been an insider retail term, not one marketed to consumers. Unlike Black Friday, retailers have manufactured little hype behind the day – simply because it doesn't need it. Shoppers are naturally motivated by their own sense of urgency. At the same time, retailers slash prices – not necessarily to bring in customers, but to get merchandise out the door before the shopping season ends.
John Doran is general manager of Fashion Outlets at Niagara Falls. He said Black Friday has its virtues, but Super Saturday is "the real deal."
"Black Friday has almost become like a social event. It's a night out with your friends and family," he said. "But the savvy shoppers know the best deals are always yet to come."
Indeed, the final push of the big day can make or break retailers' holiday shopping season.
"It's extremely important. It sets the stage for 2017," Doran said. "It allows certain retailers one last chance to hit their sales goals."
Shopping bloggers have begun anticipating Super Saturday with nearly as much fervor as Black Friday. They try to predict what kinds of deals will be offered and debate what's better purchased on Black Friday (electronics) and what should be left until Super Saturday (toys).
"Last year was the first year that got my attention," said Brent Shelton, an online shopping expert with FatWallet.com.
Stores have begun opening the term "Super Saturday" up to the masses, incorporating it into marketing schemes. Shelton said he noticed much more Super Saturday advertising pointing to in-store sales and special incentives last year. The trend has continued. Kohl's, for example, just announced a one-day Super Saturday sale with deals on last-minute gifts, including Dearfoam slippers for $9.99 and Star Wars hoodies for $17.99. Macy's, Sears and Kirklands are all advertising Super Saturday sales, as well.
Whether they're overtly marketing it or not, retailers have high hopes for big returns on Super Saturday.
"Panic will set in for the last-minute shoppers," said Russell Fulton, general manager of the Eastern Hills Mall. "With a payday on Friday, Saturday better rock."
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