Have you considered avoiding the pandemonium of big-name retailer’s Black Friday sales by shopping at your local small businesses instead? It’s always difficult to predict how holiday and Black Friday shoppers will trend any given year, but small businesses are gaining traction as buying local is catching on. Just last year, a study found that a healthy 45 cents is put back into the local economy for every $1 spent at local stores, in contrast with less than 15 cents for purchases from non-local stores. Learn what small businesses are planning this year and how to take advantage of their best offers on Black Friday and Black Friday weekend.

Spread out your Black Friday shopping schedule

In early October, Macy’s announced their decision to open at 8 pm on Thanksgiving for the first time in their store’s history, following the trend set by retailers who opened their stores on Thanksgiving last year. Meanwhile most small businesses aren’t open on Thanksgiving and others skip Black Friday entirely. One way to balance the benefits of both small businesses and the big department stores may be to shop after turkey dinner at the big name stores and save the smaller businesses for the weekend, skipping the bulk of the chaos of Black Friday sales themselves. That’s not to say that small business won’t see their share of crowds on Black Friday weekend as well, but with fewer advertisements and widespread promotions, they’re apt to be significantly less hectic.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday, a concept that has gained popularity over the last few years, is providing better ways for shoppers to support local businesses as many stores are partnering with community resources and offering special deals. Every small business will have their own holiday hours, so the best way to stay informed as we move into the holiday season is to frequently check their websites and Facebook pages. Also check the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and Shift Your Shopping website. Many small businesses offer great deals on the Shop Small network, a site sponsored by American Express. This year, American Express cardholders can register online and receive $10 back toward a small-business purchase of $10 or more on the last day in November.

Find small businesses online

One of the most convenient ways to connect with local businesses is through your phone or tablet, as some small businesses offer mobile apps for customers, which allow you to take advantage of flash sales and other offers as they become available. If you’re really dedicated to sitting in your comfy slippers at home and shopping on your computer or tablet, be sure to search for local shops as well, as many small businesses sell their products online. Check Etsy.com for small businesses and indie stores for handmade local items as well.

Also, keep in mind that some local businesses offer savings well in advance of Black Friday weekend. Be sure to stop in or contact stores prior to Black Friday to find out what special offers they have planned. Review business websites for coupons and announcements, sign up for email newsletters and browse your local newspapers and regional magazines for upcoming deals and promotions.