Reality is simple: Local businesses are at a disadvantage when competing with the price and convenience of Amazon and online shopping offered through the big-box stores such as Walmart and Target.
However, Parker Chamber Director T.J. Sullivan suggests that this year’s shoppers consider putting a portion of their holiday budget directly back into the community by spending at local businesses. Sullivan is challenging residents to at spend 50% of their overall holiday budget at local stores and businesses.
“It’s tough to promote shopping local when it’s not as convenient,” Sullivan said. “It’s hard for our local businesses to compete on inventory, price and convenience. It comes down to a citizenship decision.”
Sullivan said citizens must think about where those sales tax dollars go when they shop locally. They go toward improving the town’s infrastructure and amenities.
In looking at recent data, Sullivan’s challenge can be achieved. According to an American Express trends report, more than 77% of consumers surveyed said shopping local at some level will be a priority in 2022.
Nola Krajewski, executive director of the Golden Chamber of Commerce, said for many businesses along the Front Range, the holiday season is their biggest time of year, and it does not end with just retail shops.
Krajewski said supporting local businesses also means going to local plays and cultural activities; it means picking a local insurance provider; it means grabbing happy hour at a locally owned business; and it means putting in the extra effort to be thoughtful, to be patient, and to be kind with everyone you meet working there.
“It has been a tough few years for our business community and they are all understaffed and overworked,” Krajewski said. “Kindness goes a long way when it comes to supporting our local business community. It doesn't cost anything to support a local business with a kind word, a positive review, or a little extra patience during the most critical time of year for them.”
While businesses are struggling to keep up with inventory challenges, staffing shortages and stiff competition, the average shopper leaves room for optimism. According to the recently released 2022 Deloitte Holiday Shopping Survey, overall spending in 2022 is expected to mimic 2021 numbers, at $1,455 per consumer. This reflects optimism among low-income spenders.
According to the survey, the low-income group reported feeling more hopeful this season, with plans to return to pre-pandemic spending levels, which could be as much as 25% higher than 2021.
Before candy even hit shelves ahead of Halloween, a September report from the National Retail Federation said retailers both large and small started preparing for the optimistic holiday shopping projections.
Nadine Wilson, of Truly BoHotique, said she started placing orders and preparing for the holiday season in late summer and early fall.
“We take into account bestselling items from the year prior, in addition to seasonal trends when placing orders,” she said. “We're not having massive supply-chain issues, but certainly do encounter some.”
Wilson said over the past year about 15% of all orders get canceled due to manufacturers not being able to fulfil orders, which requires her to order up to 15% more in merchandise.
“We're not having massive supply-chain issues, but certainly do encounter some,” Wilson said. “In terms of inflation, we are absolutely encountering increases in our wholesale pricing for goods, along with increases in pricing for supply items (bags, tissue paper, etc). Our cost of goods along with the cost of running the business have increased, but we're doing our best to minimize pricing increases for our customers so as not to impede people from shopping.”
Large retailers started offering early deals, making Black Friday less of an event.
“Retailers are responding to consumer demand by starting deals and promotions for winter holiday merchandise earlier in the year,” the NRF report said. “That also allows consumers to spread out their budget over a longer period of time and search for the best deal for their holiday purchases.”
At one time, the busiest holiday shopping days came over a five-day period, starting with Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, and continuing through the weekend to what has become known as Cyber Monday.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, known as Small Business Saturday, has traditionally been marketed to shoppers to support local businesses. This year Small Business Saturday is Nov. 26.
However, in recent years, NRF said consumer trends are changing as shoppers spread spending out through the entire season, which has started with more deals in October.
For local businesses, Sullivan said, instead of trying to compete on inventory and price, it’s about providing a memorable experience. However, Sullivan added, providing experience is hard for business owners these days.
Dating back to early 2020, Sullivan said business owners are still recovering from losses due to the shutdown forced by the pandemic. They are still struggling with inventory due to global supply-chain issues. They are dealing with how to make money but keep up with the cost of inflation. Many of them also remain short-staffed, Sullivan said.
“It’s hard right now and it is going to be a tough holiday season,” Sullivan said. “But I believe in Parker because I believe people here know the importance of supporting our business owners. To shoppers, I just say if maybe you know the woman who owns the local store, got the extra mile to spend some of those holiday funds with her.”
Business owners have to make it personal, Sullivan said. They have to show citizens their value and importance as the 2022 holiday season has rolled in.
“Holiday shopping season stress is not new to any of our businesses,” Sullivan said. “It is not a new problem. Before Amazon, there was Walmart and Target. We just need to continue to push.”
Business owners depend on their local communities to support them at this time, Krajewski said.
“Whether that is catering a holiday party, dining out, going to a holiday event, or purchasing gifts — spending locally means you support a business owner and their employees that likely live in your community. When our local business community is thriving and strong, the community as a whole is strong.”
Agreeing with Krajewski, Wilson said, shopping local not only supporst local business owners, but it helps keep more of what is spent within the local community, versus going out of state to a large corporation.
“Golden businesses that survived Covid for the most part have bounced back, but it was a rough year or so,” Wilson said. “For many of the businesses that just made it through Covid, the thought of a recession is pretty scary. There is only so much stress small businesses can take.”