Black Friday has been a universal unofficial holiday in the United States since the mid 20th Century. The day when the balance-sheet turns from red to black. Making the backbreaking work of owning and operating businesses – small and large – worth it.

With online retail threatening brick and mortar for over a decade, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has finally pushed shoppers into habits that threaten the future of localized retail experiences. Amazon Prime Day in 2020 saw an increase in 60% participation over 2019. With that kind of success, what should we expect to compete against this Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Events in downtown Spokane are always a major element of the holiday season. A special moment to share with family and friends, when we cozy-up at the end of a long year. However, with limitations on gatherings, performances, in person-events and concerns for public health, the 2020 holiday season will be absent many of the attractions that bring people to downtown Spokane.

In order to fill this gap it is the responsibility of the DSP to step up and create a unique experience for the shopper, not only for the health of the hospitality and retail ecosystem, but also for the mental wellbeing of customers. The importance of success in 2020 cannot be understated.

The DSP Board recently approved the reallocation of  $100,000 in reserve funding to help preserve and boost the downtown holiday experience. Downtown hospitality and retailers have been disproportionately effected by COVID closures, that’s why DSP staff are working together with community partners to create a distinct and unique experience. The DSP is proposing a mix of elements to provide economic stimulus this holiday season.

  • Attractions: Elements that create a magnet for individuals of all ages to be drawn into downtown.
  • Promotions: Engaging and free activities that invite customers into restaurants and retailers with incentives for support.
  • Advertising: Broadcasting the mentioned attractions and promotions to potential customers, so they know what to expect and look forward to.

If individuals are leaving their homes in the middle of a pandemic, the destination had better be worth the time, effort, and extra safety precautions that must be taken. That’s why focus will be on a safe experience that provides for social distancing, allows visitors to spread out their visits over a period of time, and encourages behaviors that follow public health guidelines.

The 2020 holidays will look different in downtown Spokane, but they will still provide the warmth and light that makes the season special.