Christmas holiday shopping season to start earlier - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Christmas holiday shopping season to start earlier

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BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) -

Changes are coming to the biggest retail day of the year. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, kicks off the traditional holiday shopping season. However many national chains will open their doors Thanksgiving night. And they are offering deals online even sooner.

That has some small, local merchants changing strategy to win holiday dollars.

"It's really pressured us to step up our game and really get kicked in for this holiday season a little bit earlier," said downtown Bay St. Louis shop owner Martha Whitney-Butler.

Patti Fullilove, a merchant with Antique Mason echoed her words.

"I understand it from a retail position. I think it's a little sad that it's come to this."

The early start to Black Friday in the big stores is leading the smaller ones to be creative and concentrate on more than one day.

"In December, every Thursday we're going to stay open late until 8pm in Old Town. So we've created events every Thursday night to try to draw people into Old Town. We're going to have a men's night, we're going to have a teacher appreciation night, a friends and family night, all that have discounts," said shop owner Yuki Northington.

Northington owns a gift shop in Old Town called "The Social Chair." She believes the strength of a small shop is the personal service and unique items offered by local retailers.

"We have things you can't get in a big box store," Northington said. "Everything is not dumped into a plastic bag for you to go home and deal with on your own. When you leave here, everything is wrapped and ready to go."

Smaller merchants admit they face a big challenge, which is why they've come up with a Christmas storefront display contest.

"To attract people into our shops," said Whitney-Butler.

"Just like the big box stores, this is the bulk of our sales. We have a lot of lean months in the summer time, so we ramp up for it and we're ready for it," explained Northington.

For a small business, the holiday shopping season can account for as much as half of overall yearly profits.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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