This holiday season, consumers are spending money on the things that matter, seeking meaningful experiences and buying high-quality items for their loved ones. NRF is forecasting record holiday sales this year, and 46% of consumers say they’ve already started shopping due to concerns about inflation and getting the best deals. About one-quarter are planning to shop at a local business, and 60.4 million U.S. consumers plan to shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving on Small Business Saturday.
Retail small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, with an estimated 90% of all U.S. retail companies employing 100 or fewer people. We talked to some of our small business advocates about what consumer behavior they expect to see this holiday season, the categories consumers will be shopping and what they love about this time of year.
“We expect to see healthy holiday sales even with the recent inflation challenges. We expect to see a slight uptick in spending this year as well,” says Sean Brownlee, owner of Ravenox, headquartered in Burlington, N.C.
“Small Business Saturday is not only important to small business owners to see support coming in from consumers, but we also like to celebrate as a business that supports other small businesses, providing them with the vital materials they use for their products.”
Pam Katrancha, owner of Garden Gazebo in Norfolk, Va., says customers are planning ahead for the holidays; she’s even seen people requesting gift wrap services as early as September. Shoppers are looking for homemade, affordable products and Katrancha takes pride in bringing in new merchandise and providing a pleasant atmosphere to keep customers excited.
The busy holiday season is a testament to small business resiliency for reaching both customer demand for merchandise and customer expectations for value, says Lonnie McQuirter, owner of 36Lyn Refuel Station in Minneapolis.
“Consumers are really looking for places that treat them well and support causes that they can get behind,” he says. “It’s top of mind with the consumer, making sure that people are taken care of in all parts of our supply chain and also making sure that we are living up to our core values.”
Rather than fast fashion, consumers are also focusing on quality apparel, says Danny Reynolds, owner of Stephenson’s of Elkhart in Elkhart, Ind.
“It’s been such a volatile last couple of years,” Reynolds says. “Last year it seemed like people were so excited to get back out to stores again and really were almost shopping at a frenzied pace. This year I think it’s more of a thoughtful approach, looking for quality items, things that their loved ones are really going to enjoy for many years to come.”
Jeannell Darden, founder and CEO of Moisture Love in Atlanta, says consumers are buying in bulk and gifting specialty items this holiday season. “Consumers are going to be more focused on buying products that they’ve already used, they already know, like and trust, so that they can stack up.”
Gabby Goodwin, CEO of GaBBY Bows, in Columbia, S.C., is excited to create memorable in-store experiences that will help build loyal customers. “Customers are really looking for outside experiences, ways that they can get out of the house and explore,” she says. Goodwin focuses on “being able to create experiences where customers are excited to shop at local businesses, to look our customer in the eye, face to face, and build relationships.”
Whether you shop online or in store, NRF encourages all consumers to support their local small businesses on Small Business Saturday on November 26.