Local malls gear up for busy holiday shopping weekend

Cheyenne Water and Natalie Herrfurth, employees at Bath and Body Works at the Dayton Mall, greet customers as they walk into the store Dec. 18, 2020. The employees ask if they can assist shoppers by helping them find the items they are looking for. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Cheyenne Water and Natalie Herrfurth, employees at Bath and Body Works at the Dayton Mall, greet customers as they walk into the store Dec. 18, 2020. The employees ask if they can assist shoppers by helping them find the items they are looking for. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Miami Valley shopping malls are trying to lure customers safely to stores this weekend, a time that many shops rely upon to be the most profitable sales days of the year.

But because of COVID safety concerns and economic concerns, shoppers so far haven’t spent as much this holiday season as they have in previous years, according to national credit and debit card data. And last month U.S. employers added jobs at the slowest pace since April.

That magnifies the importance of this “Super Saturday” to retailers’ bottom lines. More than 150 million U.S. consumers — 62% of holiday shoppers —plan to shop Super Saturday, up slightly from 147.8 million in 2019, according to the annual survey released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

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Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have remained dedicated to protecting their customers, employees and the communities they serve “regardless of how and when consumers choose to shop,” according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

The number of shoppers anticipated on the last Saturday before Christmas includes both in-store and online and is the second-highest reported since NRF began tracking this figure in 2016. Of those planning to shop, 42 percent intend to do so solely online. Last year Super Saturday occurred just a few days before Christmas, while this year it falls nearly a week before the Christmas holiday, giving shoppers a few extra days to complete purchases.

NRF predicts that holiday retail sales would increase between 3.6 percent and 4.2 percent over 2019.

A strong sales rebound this weekend would go a long way toward lifting spirits of retailers like the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp., The Mall at Fairfield Commons and The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek and Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe. All four are pinning a portion of their hopes on curbside pickup, which is available at all three shopping destinations.

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Dave Duebber, general manager for the Dayton Mall, said the weekend before Christmas is historically the busiest time of the holiday season and “kind of that last minute-push.”

“People are off work, able to get out and do that final gift-giving shopping,” Duebber said. “That’s when the stores ... generally have their heaviest staffing levels (for holiday sales traffic).”

Traffic throughout the holiday season at Dayton Mall has been “very good” in light of the pandemic, he said.

“Obviously, like any place else ... people have been maybe not coming out as frequently as they have in year’s past, but we anticipate good, strong traffic coming through this weekend as well as before Christmas,” he said.

The Dayton Mall, which lists pop-up sales and specials for its 125 tenants at www.daytonmall.com, plans to offer a number of entertainment options this weekend and beyond, including guitarists, carolers, a pianist, a saxophonist, a puppet show and more. It’s also offering gift-wrapping via various non-profit organizations and a Home for the Holidays Pet Adoption program in coordination with SICSA Pet Adoption and Wellness Center, Duebber said.

The Dayton Mall is expanding its hours to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting today through Wednesday at a time it already would l would already be offering hours of at least 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and maybe even an hour later during the holiday shopping season. That’s to allow for COVID-19 cleaning and to accommodate for Ohio’s 10 p.m. curfew.

The holiday hours of The Mall at Fairfield Commons, another Washington Prime Group property, are identical to the Dayton Mall’s.

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Hours at The Greene Town Center are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, the same as during the year, however some stores may adjust their hours, according to Dorian Hunter, business development specialist for the Beavercreek retail destination.

Those hours and specific promotions for the weekend are available at www.thegreene.com, and by signing up on that website for the Greene’s newsletters.

“We will continue to keep our customers updated on sales through our website and social media (accounts),” Hunter said. “I think all of our stores are poised to make a strong holiday push to finalize 2020.”

No extended hours are available this weekend at Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe, which is offering hours of 10 to 9 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, according to its website The outlet mall is promoting its shopping deals for the weekend and beyond at www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/cincinnati/deals.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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