North Carolina businesses turn to Cyber Monday as in-store traffic dips nationwide on Black Friday amid pandemic

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- With Black Friday in-person visits significantly down this year due to the pandemic, businesses are beefing up their online presence in hopes of capitalizing on Cyber Monday.

"(In the past, it has been) very low key compared to this year of actually doing a coupon that's special and different than anything we'd be doing in the store. Even buying merchandise that was more specific to a cyber event," said Cheryl Fraser, the owner of Galatea Boutique in Seaboard Station.

The store has been open for 24 years, but this is the first time Fraser has made a dedicated effort for Cyber Monday.

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"I'm actually also doing a cyber shopping event with a network of women. So I'm doing a few different things trying to get the word out there about the online store," said Fraser.

She estimated sales were off about 30% on Black Friday, part of an overall trend of decreased in-person traffic. While online sales still amount to a small part of her business, it's increased drastically over the past year, growing from about 2% to 10-15% of overall sales.

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Prior to relocating to Seaboard Station, Galatea Boutique was located at Cameron Village. Fraser said the growth of the website has brought back some former customers.

"I've actually re-engaged with a few other customers that actually shopped with us in Cameron Village, that didn't really make the leap so much to Seaboard (Station)," said Fraser.

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Amber Brennan also owns a boutique - Rose & Lee Co. in downtown Apex. When her store was forced to close in March, she worked to build out her website.

"It took a few months I would say. I think a lot of people are still surprised that a local boutique in downtown Apex has a thriving website that's serving people all around the country," said Brennan.

Brennan took a similar approach as Fraser, focusing more of their online sales on gifting items that didn't require trying on clothes.

"Ten percent of all of our sales over the weekend were online. And if we looked at the amount of sales we had a year ago versus over this past weekend, we grew at least tenfold. So we really are getting people used to shopping on our website," said Brennan.

She added that they're also utilizing Instagram stories and Instagram reels to try and engage with customers on social media.

Brennan opened Rose & Lee Co. on Black Friday 2019, and said Small Business Saturday was her best day of sales.

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For her part, Fraser is closely monitoring social media to complete sales.

"I'm selling stuff at midnight, 1 a.m., when people are looking at posts and send me something. I'm so scared if I don't grab it right then, that the next morning...they may not go through with it," said Fraser.

While in-person store visits were significantly down, overall Black Friday sales were robust, with Adobe Analytics data noting it was the second-biggest online spending day ever.
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