Across Michigan, the holiday shopping season proves profitable for local retailers, and Hillsdale businesses follow this trend.
Womply, a software firm that provides business intelligence and other services to small businesses throughout the country, published a report on Nov. 11, revealing retail shopping trends in Michigan.
The study found that five of the top 15 consumer spending days for local retailers fall between Black Friday and Christmas Eve.
From Nov. 22 to Dec. 25, 2018, Hillsdale retailers’ average daily revenue was $1,567. Consumer spending during that period accounted for 13.5% of their annual revenue. Retailers completed roughly 12 transactions per day, and customers spent an average of $130.08 per transaction.
Of the 35 rural and urban towns surveyed, Hillsdale had the second-highest average daily revenue during the holidays. It far outperformed the two towns closest geographically: Adrian, in which retailers had an average daily revenue of $817, and Marshall, where retailers reported an average daily revenue of $620.
Wombly’s report is consistent with Hillsdale retailers’ experience.
Maggie Anne Shoppe, Hillsdale Jewelers, Gelzer’s Hardware, Small Town Sweet Boutique, Maribeth’s, and Hillsdale Craft Supply agree that the period between Black Friday and Christmas is their busiest and most profitable.
Local businesses must adjust their operations to respond to the increased demand.
Patty Bailey, owner of Maggie Anne Shoppe, said she often doubles or triples the boutique staff during the holidays.
“Everybody knows they’re going to be working more hours and earning more money,” she said.
Hillsdale Jewelers manager Jessica Nealy said the holidays are “very hectic.” To prepare for the rush, the jeweler said she brings in extra inventory and maintains a sufficient supply of jewelry boxes.
“We try to stay a step ahead,” Nealy said.
The holidays are lucrative for Gelzer’s Hardware, but Andrew Gelzer said he doesn’t hire additional help, as the store is busy year-round.
“For us, the holiday season is just the change in merchandise going out the door,” he said.
During the holidays, Gelzer’s promotes popular gift items such as power tools and accessories, pocket knives, and hard-to-find tools during the holidays.
Small Town Sweet Boutique’s confections are in high demand before every holiday, but manager Alexandra Brock agrees that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is exceptionally busy. The shop takes on additional labor to increase production of its best-selling products.
“We need more manpower to help with the added volume of candy bouquets and stocking stuffers,” Brock said.
Many of Hillsdale’s retailers can pinpoint their most profitable days. The Womply study did not find that Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Black Friday, was among the top consumer spending days for local retailers, but Bailey and Hillsdale Craft Supply owner Shelley Mangus named it as one of their most lucrative.
“My profit margin is highest on Small Business Saturday because of the quantity sold,” said Mangus.
Maggie Anne Shoppe offers gift wrapping on Black Friday, and Bailey said it’s also a big consumer-spending day for the boutique.
For Small Town Sweet Boutique, the three Saturdays before Christmas are busiest, and at Hillsdale Jewelers, the week preceding Christmas is most hectic. Carol Gier, a clerk at Maribeth’s said the Friday before Christmas is generally the busiest day, but that shopping patterns vary.
“You just never know. Usually it stays pretty steady,” she said. “Some customers even come in on Christmas Eve.”
Maribeth’s typically brings in extra staff during December.
Wompy reported that local retailers prove more popular than online retailers for last-minute shopping during the holidays. Hillsdale retailers concurred.
Gelzer said customers are straightforward about their last-minute needs, and Nealy said most of Hillsdale Jeweler’s procrastinatory customers are men.
Mangus said Hillsdale Craft Supply gets extra last-minute shoppers during the holidays, but local craft suppliers have an advantage over their online counterparts year-round.
“When you’re a creative person, and you need something for a project you’re in the middle of, you don’t have time to order it on Amazon and wait two days for it to arrive,” she said.
Bailey also said local retailers offer many advantages.
“We give customer service that you just can’t get online,” she said. “We know most of our customers, so we can suggest items they might not have thought of.”
She explained that local retailers’ follow-up services are more accessible, as it’s quicker and easier to exchange or return a product locally than it is to do so online.
“It’s just amazing how much people shop, and it’s wonderful that they shop locally,” Bailey said.