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Black Friday not so Black for some local businesses

12/3/2014, 4:10 p.m.
A slight boom in the local economy and an overall warm and fuzzy feeling regarding consumer confidence has sparked a ...

A slight boom in the local economy and an overall warm and fuzzy feeling regarding consumer confidence has sparked a small spike in Holiday shopping numbers. According to Tom Castagnoli, General Manager for both The Promenade of Bolingbrook and Louis Joliet Mall, "there's been a slight spike in the number of shoppers this year over last. This year, it's slightly higher at 2 or 3 percent. What's interesting this year is that we're noticing people using their smartphones to check for online sales, even as they are shopping in the store for bargains. I'd say online traffic is the engine that's driving sales this year."

Both The Promenade and Louis Joliet Mall are owned and operated by Starwood Retail. While the malls themselves aren't running specific programs and promotions to bring customers in, individual stores are doing their best to woo customers with not only special pricing, but special events, such as readings of children's books to young customers and holding "flash sales" at unannounced times throughout the stores. "The whole idea is to generate some excitement and create an atmosphere that gets people more involved in the shopping experience," Castagnoli said.

The 2014 holiday shopping season nationally has been characterized by cautious spending, with the national household average at $684, down from $735 in 2013, according to Steven Barr, Pwc US and Strategy retail and consumer practice leader, author of the report. "The spending divide among shoppers is widening, creating two distinct groups that we are tracking-survivalists and selectionists-and retailers must cater to both segments. "

The recent compromising of consumer credit card privacy data hasn't helped matters. "It's created an even more complex retail landscape that retailers need to master. Consumers have zero tolerance for another season of data privacy invasion. The retailers need to get a handle on it or they risk losing loyal shoppers."