Every year, at this time of year, economic analysts, pundits, and the media pore over the fresh-from-the-till economic data to gauge how Black Friday turned out, as it is the traditional starting point for the holiday shopping season. After all, who can ignore the compelling news visuals of shoppers across the land, stacked up in lines in the wee hours after Thanksgiving, just hoping to get first crack at holiday shopping bonanzas?
Just a couple of years ago, another day was coined by Shop.org, the online branch of the National Retailer Federation trade group, to highlight, and help boost, the surge in online shopping following the Thanksgiving weekend: Cyber Monday! Amazingly, media, economic analysts and consumers ate it up, so each year more merchants announce Cyber Monday sales, and a virtuous cycle has begun. There is even an official web site, cybermonday.com, as a portal to many of these sales.
So today, we all know Black Friday and Cyber Monday as key annual milestones in this economy’s shopping season.
Well those of us immersed in all things local need to unite and create yet another day for the pundits to notice. How about “local Tuesday?” This would not be just a one-day wonder, but would symbolize the importance that local information and advertising have on purchases throughout the holiday season—and the entire year, for that matter.
Point is, as much as Cyber Monday reflects a megatrend of dollars and shopping moving online, Black Friday reminds us that the vast majority of consumer retail spending is still occurring at local brick-and-mortar businesses. Local Tuesday would celebrate the fact that online and offline have merged and blended, both from the business and the consumer perspectives.
For consumers, offline shopping is increasingly influenced by online information. Local search and local online advertising have become critical elements of offline purchase decisions—now and beyond this most hectic buying season of the year.
For businesses, Local Tuesday would conclusively address the ongoing debate of physical storefront versus web site. Both are important, to the point where most businesses need some form of online presence to be viable and competitive in today’s marketplace. Instead of worrying about losing business to Web-based competitors, brick-and-mortar businesses should focus on leveraging some form of online presence—whether an actual Web site, a highly targeted local online advertising campaign, or both—to drive shoppers to their physical stores!
Many retailers posted their offline Black Friday sales information in advance on their Web sites to do just that. Many consumers do online research for offline purchases—and then return online to rate and review them.
Local Tuesday would celebrate this yin and yang of local purchase decisions. And like Cyber Monday, it would highlight, and help boost, a recurring traffic surge—in this case, the typical Tuesday peak in weekly traffic to local search sites.
This is a great time of year to recognize and remind ourselves that the “last mile” of local search lies in providing exactly what consumers need to discover local businesses and make informed buying decisions.
Please join me in celebrating Local Tuesday!
Chris Linnett is director of Open List for Marchex, where he blogs regularly about all things local at LocalPoint, in addition to his regular column for Search Engine Land. The Locals Only column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.