The biggest shopping weekend of the year is here, and Missouri outlet malls are expecting to reap benefits equal to other retailers during the massive spending spree.
69 percent of Americans – roughly 164 million people – are either planning or considering shopping over the four-day span, according to the National Retail Federation.
Jamie Whiteis, General Manager of Tanger Outlet Mall in Branson, says early results at his business reflect those numbers. “We’ve actually gotten off to a great start this year so far,” said Whiteis. “We’re seeing a slight increase in traffic and sales compared to last year.”
For the first time, the National Retail Federation survey numbers include Cyber Monday in addition to Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Sunday.
The survey shows that 20% of those people shopping plan to do so Thanksgiving Day, while Black Friday remains the busiest day with 115 million people, or 70%, intending to visit retail stores.
A substantial number,71 million, plan to shop on Saturday, with more than three-quarters of them saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. 78 million people are expected to shop on Sunday.
The hours of outlet malls across Missouri vary, depending on the operator’s philosophy.
There was a popular backlash against opening Thanksgiving Day in 2016, with a number prominent national retailers such as Nordstrom, Dillard’s, REI and Sears Hometown Stores locking their doors. One operator shut down all of its 72 malls after being open the previous year.
This year, Tanger Outlet Mall in Branson will open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and keep the lights on for 28 consecutive hours until the close of business at 10 p.m. Friday.
At the other end of the spectrum, Legends Outlets, a prominent shopping location in the Kansas City area, is closed Thanksgiving Day. St. Louis Premiere Outlets in Chesterfield is open from 6 p.m. Thanksgiving until 2 a.m. Friday morning, and will reopen four hours later at 6 a.m.
The holiday itself is a draw for outlet centers in destination spots. Whiteis with Tanger in Branson says its commonplace for shoppers at his facility to have traveled across state lines.
“We will have families, maybe a few from the north and a few from the south. They’ll meet at Branson, and stay and celebrate their Thanksgiving in Branson, with all the different show opportunities. Plus, with all the great shopping, it’s kind of a destination and a family gathering at the same time this time of year for them.”
Numbers from the Deloitte Holiday Survey show that gift spending will be flat this year at $430 and an average of 14.7 gifts.
The survey also reveals a challenging aspect for retailers. Online spending is expected to exceed in-store sales for the first time, by a 51%-to-42% margin. Tanger Branson’s Whiteis contends physical shopping centers still have much to offer.
“The brick-and-mortar and the outlets, I think we offer such great bargains and great deals.” Whiteis said. “All of our different brands still have some great offers that people take advantage of. And you still have those people that like to see, touch, fell and try on what they’re buying.”
The Deloitte survey also shows a troubling trend for department stores, which continue to be squeezed in the marketplace. At 28 percent, down 3 percentage points from last year, department stores placed a distant third behind the Internet and mass merchants as a shopping destination.