Holiday Shopping Changes During a Pandemic

The Holiday season is approaching and as many businesses prepare for a busy shopping season, many people are wondering how COVID-19 will affect the upcoming holidays. Not just big retailers but also small and local businesses.

“This holiday season is very puzzling for the small brick and mortar retailers. Because people are staying home more due to the virus, they seem to be doing most of their Christmas shopping early and online, which could actually make or break the fate of many small businesses.” Jody Combs, the owner of RooBarb Studios, says.

Stores like Roobarb Studios and Trends on Main, consistently report a busy season during the holidays. This year though things will be different. Coronavirus will make it more difficult for local businesses to get cash flowing and to draw customers into their stores.

“This year, we have personally seen a loss of sales in our special occasion wear. We lost prom and homecoming season and it looks like holiday parties will be minimal. This will result in lack of sales as well. More people will be ordering gifts online this year. We spent months rebuilding our website and training on our system to sell on our live shows. We have to stay in front of our customers now more than ever.” Pam Hamlin, the owner of Trends on Main, says.

Coronavirus has already delayed shipping for websites like Amazon. With a busy season up ahead customers are left wondering how long shipping will take, and if service will be up to typical standards.

In person stores are doing their best to make sure customers are safe and satisfied while shopping during a pandemic. Local stores may also be affected by slow shipping too.

“As small business owners we have been forced to get creative to keep our store alive. The cost of product has increased and shipping has been challenging- forcing us to think outside the box. Big box stores have the resources and teams of people to pitch ideas off of. As small business owners, we have met monthly to spin ideas and off suggestions to one another. Again, all just to survive this very difficult time.” Hamlin says.

Many businesses are doing Black Friday differently this year. Target announced they would be extending typical Black Friday sales through November in order to keep the rush of Black Friday to a minimum. Some stores are also lowering their prices to make sure people financially affected by COVID can afford their items.

“Much of sales are custom orders (hand stamped jewelry and personalized notecards and stationery) so we are prepared to work extra hours behind the scenes to handle those sales. However, we always supplement our own creations with ordering additional lines (such as PuraVida and Ettika). It’s difficult to know how much outside inventory to have on hand due to the shift in customers’ shopping preferences. We’re also keeping in mind that our customers may be having financial difficulties this season due to job loss or cut hours due to Covid. Even though our cost of materials has risen substantially, we’re doing our best to keep our prices as low as possible. Abby and I want anybody who loves our jewelry to be able to afford to purchase a piece of two.” Combs says.

Coronavirus will affect businesses and shoppers alike this Holiday Season.

“We have very loyal customers who we cannot thank enough. They have inspired us to keep pushing through and provide cute and trendy items to our patrons. We feel blessed we live in a community who supports small, family owned local businesses like ours” Trends on Main owner, Pam Hamlin, says.