Local businesses are preparing for a more normal Thanksgiving shopping weekend this year, complete with the deals, savings and fellowship that it brings.

Retail experts predict a busier Black Friday this year, with Mastercard trumpeting their projections for a 10% increase in sales when compared to last year. Last year, of course, was impacted by COVID-19, with many shoppers seeking to buy their gifts from the comfort of their own homes, whether it be on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, or whenever they deemed best fit.

Locally, shoppers will be able to partake in many of the savings brought forth by national chains that day. Walmart and Kohl’s plan to open at 5 a.m., while Menards and Rural King will swing their doors open to eager shoppers at 6 a.m. Even with the desire of many people to engage in the traditional door-buster deal, Rural King’s store manager, Blayne Lawyer, said many retailers like his are shifting toward an expansion of Black Friday deals, moving from the weekend to the entire month.v

“You’re seeing a shift in that with a lot of retailers now (with) extending that Black Friday promotion,” Lawyer said. “(It’s) not just to that one day event, (but also) seeing more of a weeklong event. For us, we do Black Friday now, which is a 30-day event.”

Rural King will have discounts on firearms, clothing and boots, automotive batteries and scents for hunters. Lawyer said the discounts will have an impact on any item purchased in the store during this time of the year, enough that it could cancel out much of the impact that inflation has on one’s holiday purchases.

“With Rural King, I don’t think you will be noticing (as) many high prices compared to where they were last year,” Lawyer said. “There will be some basic commodities that we’ve seen grow in price, but we’ve been staging that out for 4-5 months. Instead of hitting people with large increases, we’ve been staging them out for a while now.”

The weekend will have a significant impact on businesses both national and local, with Effingham County Chamber President and CEO Lucinda Hart saying local buying during the weekend helps bolster the businesses and local residents as well.

“It helps with stimulating our local economy,” Hart said. “It’s not only important to support the businesses, but it helps with our local economy.”

The Chamber’s Downtown Effingham Business Group will be active on Small Business Saturday, with some businesses, like Beanstalk Boutique owned by Sara Ruholl, offering discounts for people who get to their stores early.

“Usually, I try to do something where I give my first 10 customers something to thank them for their business on Small Business Saturday,” Ruholl said. “(I also have) a couple of sales of some sort. I know that a lot of other small businesses do that too.”

Whether or not a place has something in stock depends on where you shop. Lawyer said Rural King has had some trouble being able to provide certain toys and imported items. Even with that, he said the store has done a good job of keeping the shelves stocked with whatever people might need.

“Overall, our inventory is good throughout the store, which is wonderful to see,” Lawyer said.

Ruholl, on the other hand, has struggled to obtain certain items normally present in her store, such as shirts, backpacks and other items for children.

“It’s going to be really hard this year for (small) businesses getting supplies and materials in to put into our stores, with the downfall of shipping and all that stuff right now,” Ruholl said.

Even if one can’t find exactly what they’re looking for, the atmosphere at places like Beanstalk Boutique may push some people to go out to a store rather than making a purchase online. Ruholl said in-person contact is important for a business like hers, which relies a great deal on personalizing items to best fit the shopper’s needs.

“For them to come in and see what they can pick out, it’s really cool and fun to be able to interact with them,” Ruholl said. “They can see more about the business and what we do here.”

Zach Roth can be reached at zach.roth@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at (217) 347-7151 ext. 132 or (217) 899-4338.

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Reporter, Effingham Daily News

Reporter for the Effingham Daily News, covering city government, local business and state representatives.