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Cashman: Getting an early start on shopping

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On the of eve of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, consumers are eager to get a jumpstart on holiday shopping.

Many already have started making a dent in their holiday shopping lists. According to the National Retail Federation’s holiday consumer spending survey released last week, 52.8 percent of Americans have started their holiday shopping, up from 51.4 percent last year.

With plans to spend slightly more than last year, shoppers will stock up on lots of discretionary gifts for their loved ones. The most popular choice: clothing and clothing accessories. According to the survey, nearly six in 10 (59.7 percent) consumers will splurge on fashion and apparel items and other accessories.

About the same amount of people (59.2 percent) will buy gift cards, which also are the most requested gift item. Children also will benefit this holiday season – 45.1 percent of people say they will buy toys. Additionally, 22.5 percent of shoppers will go the extra mile and surprise someone special with jewelry, the highest amount since 2007.

Of course, Black Friday has become Black Thursday as retailers are offering holiday bargains shortly after Thanksgiving dinner.

Target plans to open at 9 p.m. Thursday. Wal-Mart will begin its holiday sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year.

Sears stores will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and will stay open overnight until 10 p.m. Friday. Last year Sears stores were closed on Thanksgiving. Kmart and Toys R Us also will open at 8 p.m., while Kohl’s, Macy’s and Best Buy are opening at midnight on Black Friday.

Lord & Taylor, which was closed on Thanksgiving last year, will be open on the holiday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

On Main Street, Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24 is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for our communities.

American Express, which created Small Business Saturday, reported a 28 percent increase in sales for small businesses in 2010 (the first Small Business Saturday) compared to the same date in 2009. This year, more large businesses are showing their support for the holiday, including Google, Facebook and Twitter.

And small business owners appear to be optimistic as 2012 winds down.

According to Bank of America’s Small Business Owner Report, a majority of small business owners are planning on sustaining or growing their business over the next 12 months, as 31 percent plan on hiring more employees.

More than half of the small business owners surveyed anticipate that revenue will increase in 2013.

“Small businesses are critical to the growth of economy,” said Dean Athanasia, Preferred and Small Business executive at Bank of America. “Heading into 2013, small business owners have a high level of confidence in their ability to build and sustain a successful business.”

Of course, every day should be Small Business Saturday.

Tony Feucht, sales consultant at Gary Lang Auto Group, summed it up last week when he accepted the award for Business of the Year from the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce:

“It’s nice doing business with people you do business with.”

– Email ccashman@shawmedia.com

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