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A wave of optimism filled the air on a lively holiday shopping weekend. While all the numbers are not yet tallied, business owners and leaders in Evanston said they felt shoppers were out and about.

Fabrics on display at Sew on Central at 1937 Central St. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

“It was extremely successful. The reports came in that said our businesses are really supported by our community,” Angela Shaffer, executive director of the Central Street Evanston business district said.

“It seems the foot traffic was up from last year, but we’re still down from pre-pandemic levels,” said Annie Coakley, executive director of the Downtown Evanston district. Evanston’s downtown has mirrored other big cities in that it has been slower to recover than the city’s other business districts from the pandemic drops.

More people expected to shop Saturday

It was predicted there would be more foot traffic on Small-Business Saturday than Black Friday.

People were also looking to see if in-store shopping rebounded. Adobe Analytics reported that despite inflation fears, shoppers spent an online record of $9.12 billion on Black Friday.

“Everybody’s looking to save a little bit,” Coakley said. Despite that, she added, the community is committed to supporting local businesses with in-person sales.

With consumers’ pockets strained, there is a greater demand for deals, discounts and offers. Economists, business organizations and retail store owners were watching the trends this weekend hoping to see what it bodes for the holiday shopping season, particularly in light of the current inflation picture.

Coakley added that Downtown Evanston offered a $30 Evanston gift card to the first 80 people who spent $100, with gift cards being quickly snatched up.

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