Opinion, WVPA Sharing

WVPA Column: Newspapers energize the holiday shopping marketplace

By Don Smith

Executive Director

West Virginia Press Association

West Virginians know Thanksgiving means turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, the Macy’s parade and football. Those are traditions.

There is another tradition many West Virginians count on each Thanksgiving: finding the community newspaper “stuffed” with sales fliers and coupons.

The Friday after Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas shopping season, with thousands of shoppers heading to the downtown merchants, to the malls and to their favorite stores to take advantage of the earlier shopping specials. Many approach it with military precision, lining up before daylight to start a day of bargain-hunting based on the information gathered from the dozens of sales fliers they found in their community newspaper.

The value residents find in those over-stuffed Thanksgiving newspapers is incredible. The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington will be delivering a five-pound newspaper with more than 40 inserts on Thursday. Shoppers can easily save hundreds of dollars – the most aggressive can save thousands of dollars — by taking advantage of fliers and coupons.

“We have 43 (sales fliers) in our paper on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week,” said Tammy Harris, advertising director for the The Register-Herald in Beckley. Along with the fliers, the newspaper provides shoppers with more than $500 in coupon savings.

In Martinsburg, The Journal features 39 inserts on Thanksgiving day and will carry more than 70 fliers, along with special coupons pages, before the weekend is over, according advertising director Judy Gelestor.

Newspapers bring that value to every community. Weekly newspapers such as the Weston Democrat, Pocahontas Times and Glenville Democrat and Pathfinder report a high number of sales fliers and extra value for readers. Susan Bentley, advertising manager for the Weston Democrat, said, “We are also publishing one of two gift guides this week for holiday shopping which adds six pages of advertising and articles dedicated to the holiday season.”

Across the state — west to The Herald Dispatch in Huntington, east to The Journal in Martinsburg, north to The Intelligencer/News-Register in Wheeling, south to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and through the middle of the state in the Dominion Post of Morgantown, Times West Virginian of Fairmont, The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg, The Inter-Mountain of Elkins and The Gazette and Daily Mail in Charleston — newspaper advertising directors report that residents can expect to find dozens of sales fliers in their community newspapers.

Why such a large section of advertising information?  Caroline Little, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, said its because advertisers know newspapers reach the right audience.

“The reason is in the numbers, as 63 percent of Americans say newspapers are the ultimate holiday shopping guide, according to Nielsen research. Year after year, newspapers have provided the best local deals, key information, and hot holiday gifts in their Thanksgiving edition. This history has built incredible trust among both consumers and advertisers,” Little said. “Newspapers continue to offer advertisers an extremely wide audience – 71 percent of Americans read newspaper-generated content. This audience is also heavily engaged. Nielsen data shows that newspaper media have a higher level of engagement than all other media, and print ads drive the highest purchase intent, scoring nearly 10 percent higher than local television, cable television and local music radio.”

Online shoppers also look to West Virginia newspapers for great value. Between the valuable online specials featured on newspaper websites — https://wvpress.wpengine.com/wvnewspapers — and the online information provided by the print fliers and newspapers, online shoppers know the value of newspapers.

Little explains the value: “When we conducted a study on how America shops and spends during last year’s holiday season, we found newspaper print ads drive online shopping and purchases in addition to in-store traffic. Roughly 40 percent of adults searched online, purchased a product, or visited a website as a direct result of a newspaper ad that month.”

“For retailers, the stakes are especially high to reach as many people as possible to ensure a profitable holiday season. For consumers, scoring the best deals, comparison-shopping, and finding that perfect gift are all high priorities, “ Little said, “Newspapers continue to provide a key service to both parties. In this critical shopping season, retailers can reach a massive, engaged and active audience by advertising in newspaper media. And consumers are given a one-stop-shop with all the best holiday sales, products and information.”

Here in West Virginia, the newspaper industry understands how much the business community and local residents depend on the marketplace that is the local newspaper. It’s a responsibility your newspaper takes very seriously. So enjoy your turkey and pumpkin pie, when it comes to Black Friday sales fliers, your community newspaper, as it does everyday, will deliver.

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