SouthCoast Retailers Hoping for the Best This Holiday Season
You may have noticed the "C" word slipping into more and more conversations as the summer of 2022 fades and the chill of fall fills the air. Christmas is coming, and local merchants are holding their collective breath following two years of the COVID pandemic and now record inflation.
Many retailers, including local mom and pop operations, depend heavily on the holiday shopping season. For some, it can mean the difference between living to fight another day and liquidation.
One SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce president Rick Kidder said, "We are looking forward to a robust shopping season for the holidays, but we must keep a watchful eye on inflationary pressures and economic indicators. One thing we dp know is that 'shopping local' supports the local economy."
There is good reason to be nervous, however. A CNBC headline proclaimed, "Holiday shopping season expected to be muted, as inflation squeezes shoppers."
CNBC reported that while consumers will likely spend more this year than last, the increase is likely to be much smaller when adjusted for inflation.
Fortune reported that "accounting giant" Deloitte forecasts a slowdown in spending growth.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) said more and more people are beginning their holiday shopping earlier than ever before, and they are looking for bargains. The NRF said there is a good chance they will find them.
Kidder urged shoppers to consider their local retailer when shopping for holiday gifts.
"The pandemic, as well as other pressures of pricing, has made people more conditioned to online shopping, but local shopping means local jobs and local commitments to service," he said.
Kidder said it's a particularly challenging time for local merchants.
"There has been slow growth overall, and several businesses are facing a labor shortage, the challenge of rising wages, and now inflationary and supply issues," he said. "Prices are rising, wages are rising, but businesses are under pressure to afford those increases, which creates a spiral of more inflation."
One Southcoast Chamber of Commerce Director of Business Development and City Council President Ian Abreu echoed the push to shop local.
"According to the Small Business Administration, out of every $100 spent at a local small business, about $50 of that is re-infused back into the local economy by way of salaries and wages, tax revenue and, local procurement of services," he said.
"When you shop at a local mom-and-pop shop, you’re helping someone who actually lives in our community, who provides a first-rate service," he said. "You’re helping a neighbor, a friend, a little league baseball team sponsor – someone who’s invested in us.”