Florida businesses are gearing up for in-store and online shoppers

LAKELAND – Despite the growing popularity of online shopping, retailers are preparing for Black Friday in-store shoppers by beefing up staff and adding merchandise.

An increase in shoppers is expected as 64% of shoppers plan to take advantage of Black Friday deals in-store, a 13% increase from last year, according to the Florida Retail Federation.

“Our merchants are well prepared,” said Ryan Conlon, associate general manager of Lakeland Square Mall. “While most of them sell online, as they are large companies, we also have many small local businesses that deal exclusively in their respective stores.”

The mall will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday and is decorated for the holiday season. Father Christmas will also be on hand to meet buyers of all ages.

The mall also hosts several seasonal tenants to add variety to the year-round merchant lineup, Conlon said. They will offer a range of products ranging from holiday decorations to sports memorabilia.

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Of any holiday shopping day, Black Friday is poised to have the largest turnout with 108 million shoppers, the Federation said.

“Florida retailers are ready to help families have a stress-free vacation,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, in an email.

“Whether you are looking for the perfect ‘Secret Santa’ gift, browsing unique adornments, hosting a traditional family vacation dinner, or planning other festivities, Florida retailers are working hard to make this holiday season happy and bright,” Shalley said.

Florida’s retail industry has been proactive this holiday season, buying additional inventory and hiring 38% more seasonal workers. In some cases, companies started hiring in October to accommodate the first holiday purchases.

An increase in shoppers is expected as 64% of shoppers plan to take advantage of Black Friday deals in-store, a 13% increase from last year, according to the Florida Retail Federation.

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Companies have also promised improvements to online shopping with the addition of new features to make in-store pickup and hassle-free home delivery easier.

In time for shopping season, Target added “Shopping Partner”, “Backup Items” and “Forgot Something” as new functions for pickups and deliveries.

A business partner allows buyers to send someone else to a store to pick up items. Backup items mean shoppers can go home with a second choice item if their first choice isn’t available. The Forgot Something allows online order takers to add additional items to their virtual shopping cart but collect the entire order in one go.

Across all of the company’s locations, Target added 18,000 car parking spaces and tripled in-store order fulfillment staff.

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The retailer also said same-day delivery with Shipt has been expanded and many door-to-door deliveries can be made within an hour.

“We started running holiday deals in October for those looking to shop early and continue to see big savings throughout the season, including Black Friday week,” said Christina Hennington, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer of Target.

“Whether it’s buying deals or last minute Thanksgiving needs, our team is ready for incredible savings,” she added. “And by making our Black Friday deals even more available through our same-day services, we’re making it easier than ever for customers to buy everything on their terms.”

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Target said it will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, with most stores reopening at 7 a.m. local time on Black Friday. Offers on holiday shopping items run from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday.

Walmart has also improved its online shopping options.

“Customers can pick up their Black Friday purchases while doing their weekly grocery shopping, making it easier to remove wishlists,” Charles Crowson, director of corporate communications said in an email.

“And, to make it easier for customers to get what they need when they need it – from turkey and toppings to Black Friday deals and top rated toys to put under the tree – and even the tree itself, Walmart is 1) extending store delivery hours, 2) adding additional delivery windows for customers, and 3) adding more items to the list of what can be delivered from your local store. ”

Additionally, hiring at Walmart is underway as the retailer seeks to recruit 150,000 new store associates in the United States to serve customers seasonally and beyond. The store is also looking to add 20,000 permanent positions in the supply chain to support its growing network.

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Officials at Instacart, the e-commerce partner of Publix Super Market, said questions about current supply chain issues are of concern to consumers.

“As the next Thanksgiving holiday approaches, supply chain disruptions are already weighing heavily on the minds of consumers, with nearly half of Americans planning to host or cook for the holidays admitting that they are concerned about getting what they need, ”said Laurentia Romaniuk. , Instacart’s trends expert. “Unlike the shortages we saw at the start of the pandemic, the availability issues we see today are broader and even more unpredictable – spanning many categories and changing from week to week.”

In 2020, online shopping hit $ 9 billion on Black Friday, up 21.6% year-on-year, according to data from Adobe Analytics. But the biggest online shopping frenzy of any year occurs on Cyber ​​Monday.

With Black Friday sales starting earlier this year, and with most consumers planning to shop online rather than in-store, WalletHub.com released its report on the best places to shop in 2021 on Black Friday. The personal finance website has broken down the top discounts by product categories such as appliances, jewelry, and toys in its report.

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The highest discounts at 21 of the largest retailers surveyed included Macy’s at 58.51% and JCPenny at 57.63%, with Belk coming in third at 56.63%.

Wallet Hub also found that about 11% of items from large retailers will be more expensive on Black Friday than the current Amazon.com prices. Consumer packaged goods will offer the most value on Black Friday 2021 compared to their current prices, while computers and phones are expected to have the least rewarding deals.

For that special someone who has everything, WalletHub.com also found Starbucks, Target, and Nike topped the list of the best gift cards of 2021.

Paul Nutcher covers business and industry for The Ledger. He can be contacted at pnutcher@gannett.com.

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