Retailers say Saturday afternoons can be the busiest time of the week
By Cynthia Scheer – Belleville Telescope News
Saturdays are are the busiest day of the week for several Belleville businesses, and it’s due in large part to longer business hours, owners say.
But some downtown businesses that stay open through Saturday afternoon would benefit from even more businesses staying open on Saturdays, employees said.
Belleville Hometown Lumber employee Josh Parde said Saturdays are the busiest days at the home improvement store because people are off work and working on projects around their homes.
“During the week it’s mostly contractors,” he said. “But on Saturdays we get the do-it-yourself homeowner projects.”
The business used to close at noon under previous ownership, Parde said, but now stays open until 2:30 p.m.
“We always get a little rush before we close,” he said. Sew Country’s Sheila Cornett said she, too, has her busiest day on Saturday. She said her customers come from a 100-mile radius of Belleville and don’t have time to make the trip to her store on days when they work. For 22 years she has kept her business open until 5 p.m. on Saturday to cater to her customers.
“There’s lots of Saturdays I don’t eat lunch until 3,” she said of the busy day. “[Saturdays] are worth staying open for.”
The Feathered Nest and 6th Street Fashions and Footwear both stay open until 5 p.m. on Saturdays, but sources at the businesses said business can vary greatly from one Saturday to the next.
Employees at The Feathered Nest said one Saturday can be very busy while the next Saturday can be quiet. They said the business day depends on how people decide to spend their Saturday.
6th Street Fashions and Footwear owner Shari Haug agreed. “Our day depends on what’s going on in the community and the weather,” Haug said.
“Typically we are busy on Saturday, but business could be better. Some days we do better on Thursdays and Fridays than we do on Saturdays.
“What kills us is those that aren’t open at all or close at noon on Saturdays. The more that’s open on a Saturday, the better it is for all of us.”
Weakness 1. Limited Business Hours
Solution: Be open more evenings and weekends.
Why? Because “70% of all consumer retail spending takes place after 6:00 pm.”
That’s according to Roger Brooks. “While we [customers] are moving to the European standard of dining and shopping later in the evenings, downtowns haven’t made the change at all.”
Idea 1. Be open during the best retail times.
Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, said, “Studies have shown that, in order, these are the best money making times for retail:”
- 1. Saturday 11 am – 1 pm
- 2. Saturday 3 pm – 5 pm
- 3. Sunday 3 pm – 5 pm
- 4. Sunday 11 am – 1 pm
If you aren’t open weekends, you just missed all four of these.
“Build a schedule for your employees around those higher sales times. Put the customer first when you schedule, not the employee,” Phibbs said.
Idea 2. Be open during evening sales, strolls or art walks.
This lets you ease businesses into longer hours a little at a time. Have artists display their works or musicians perform. Put out refreshments. Run specials or offer other incentives to make a purchase.
Idea 3. Tie in with businesses that already do evening hours. Check all your existing businesses to see if some, like banks, already stay open late. Use their open hours as an anchor to help attract other businesses.
Ideas 4. Share the cost of adding staff.
New evening and weekend hours will mean a need for increased staffing for most businesses. Catherine Sak, Executive Director of Texas Downtown Association, said: “I’m part of an open group on LinkedIn – Downtown Revitalization – and one group member mentioned they were considering developing a shared employee program so that small businesses wouldn’t have to shoulder all of the cost of having additional employees – especially for later hours. Really cool idea that could benefit everyone.”
I can’t wait to hear what you come up with for Idea 5!
Update: If you’ve tried longer business hours, but no one showed up, here are some ideas on how to draw customers to your store for evening hours.
About Becky McCray
Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.