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Most local retailers focused on pushing online sales to compete with larger companies, such as Amazon. File photo
Carlsbad Cities Community Community News

Local Black Friday shopping trends flip due to pandemic

CARLSBAD — Black Friday had a different tone this year.

Typically, the day after Thanksgiving is a chaotic blend of endless lines and huge savings. But this year was markedly different due to COVID-19, with more people going online to secure their Black Friday deals.

And while most of the data from Carlsbad and surrounding areas is still pending, the pandemic may have significantly altered how customers and businesses approach the biggest shopping day of the year, according to Bret Schanzenbach, president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

Most local retailers, especially small businesses, went all-in with their online deals before the holiday to compete with Amazon, Walmart and Target, helping to reverse typical retail trends.

“For years we saw the trend move and encroach more and more on the national holiday of Thanksgiving,” Schanzenbach said. “With COVID, we saw the opposite. All the big retailers were closed. It was more like a Black Friday week.”

Local businesses also ramped up their efforts earlier for Cyber Monday to compete with bigger retail outlets and online marketplaces.

In Carlsbad Village, foot traffic was down for Small Business Saturday, but people still rallied to support their local businesses, according to Christine Davis, executive director of the Carlsbad Village Association (CVA). Davis said that while smaller businesses didn’t break any sales records, many successfully redirected customers to their online platforms.

Davis said most have pivoted to increase their online presence due to in-store restrictions from the pandemic. And although times have been tough, those small businesses are refusing to quit, she said.

“The businesses are holding on and not many are holding up the white flag of surrender,” Davis said. “There is a lot of tenacity.”

Davis said the Village’s difference is they have a loyal customer base who want to support merchants and have an appetite for a local connection and unique experience.

“I was impressed with the amount of support and pride everyone had in downtown Carlsbad,” she said. “It was nice to see.”

The association is hosting its Maker’s Market on Dec. 5 at St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.