Small Business Saturday

The shopping promotions haven’t ended with Black Friday.

American Express is sponsoring Small Business Saturday to encourage cardholders to shop at locally owned businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Shoppers with an AmEx card can register to receive a $10 credit on their bill when they spend $10 or more at a participating business Saturday.

Many retailers will sweeten the deal with promotions of their own. About 67% of small business owners said they’ll offer special markdowns, according to a survey conducted by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

It was a mixed bag on Black Friday in the Lowcountry.

While some shopping centers were packed — like the Best Buy-anchored center on Rivers Avenue — it appeared to be an ordinary day at some other popular shopping areas.

The day that’s regarded as the biggest shopping day of the year may have generated less traffic this year since so many stores kicked off their sales on Thanksgiving.

Walmart stores, most of which stay open 24 hours, has until recent years offered doorbusters that had been reserved for Black Friday. Kmart planned to stay open 41 hours starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

That has led some to question how much further Black Friday will creep into Thanksgiving, which along with Christmas is one of only two days a year that most stores are closed.

“Black Friday is now Gray Friday,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy.

Julette Scott shopped with husband Peter at 11 a.m. Friday at Target in North Charleston. She described a tame scene as she unloaded toys for her grandchildren into the trunk of her car in the half-full parking lot.

The weren’t any lines, the store wasn’t crowded and all the items she wanted were well-stocked, she said.

“I guess because it started early last night, people slept in today,” she said.

Kaitrin Kroll was at the same store when it opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night, and she said it was “pretty crazy.”

She waited about 30 minutes to pay for a 47-inch flat screen TV, she said.

It was her first time shopping doorbuster deals on the holiday.

“One of the reasons we decided to do it is because it started last night. If I had to go there at 2 a.m., there’s no way we would have done it, but I thought, we can do Target at 8 p.m. We were done eating, so it was perfect,” she said.

On her way to work Friday, Zelma Nick of Huger stopped by Walmart at Wando Crossing shopping center in Mount Pleasant to browse and “pick up a few things.”

The parking lot was practically empty.

“I was really shocked,” she said, as she cradled some scarves and a baby blanket in her arm and scanned the air filter aisle. “I thought there would be a lot more people here. I guess everybody got what they needed last night.”

Nick was among the shoppers on Thanksgiving.

She pulled into the parking lot of Walmart at the Market at Oakland shopping center in Mount Pleasant at 4:30 p.m. Thursday to stand in line for the 6 p.m. deals on electronics.

“I thought there would be a long line,” she said, “but it wasn’t so bad. There were about 10 or 15 people in front of me.”

Nick bought a new Mini-iPad for $299 and received a $100 Walmart gift card.

Last year, sales on Thanksgiving rose 55 percent from the previous year to $810 million, as more stores opened on the holiday, according to research firm ShopperTrak. But sales dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year.

Store sales numbers won’t be available until Saturday. The National Retail Federation said 140 million people planned to shop during the four-day holiday weekend.

The Associated Press and Warren Wise of The Post and Courier contributed to this report. Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail