Holiday shopping in Red Wing shifts during the pandemic

According to Insider Trends, “the last quarter of the year is… usually a bright spot for retailers when it comes to sales.” This trend can be seen locally.

The Uffda Shop in Red Wing opened over 40 years ago and owners Sara and Arne Skyberg know well the importance of holiday shopping on their business.

“We do half of our annual sales during the fourth quarter, so the holiday season is critical to our business,” they explained.

While the Uffda Shop’s hours have been reduced and only 12 to 14 people are allowed in the store at a time, the Skybergs are still meeting the needs of their customers. They explained:

“We see more internet, catalog and mail orders this year so far … highly increased internet ordering.”

The jump in early shopping is not uncommon. A study by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that two-thirds of shoppers in the U.S. plan to begin their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving this year.

While many businesses have seen more gift-related purchases this November compared to past years, it is still unclear what this early shopping trend means for the remainder of the quarter. It could suggest a good quarter for businesses or, if most people are finishing their shopping early, it could mean that fewer people will be spending money in December.

Many economists and organizations predict that this will be a good season for businesses.

Despite the record-high unemployment numbers throughout the country, an International Council of Shopping Centers study suggests that this season could have a 1.9% increase in sales compared to the 2019 final quarter. The study also found:

“94% of adults plan to make holiday-related purchases this year, and 73% anticipate spending the same or more this holiday season. Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have come to expect click-and-collect and curbside pickup at their local retailer. In fact, 53% will leverage these alternatives throughout November and December.”

Dr. Audrey Guskey is an associate professor of marketing and consumer trends at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. In an article published on the university’s website Guskey shows optimism for consumers and sellers this season, saying, “discounts and promotions will be the best sales consumers have seen in a long time.” Guskey added:

“Small Business Saturday should be the best ever! During the coronavirus pandemic, small businesses have been hurt the most. All consumers should make a concerted effort to get out there, whether Small Business Saturday or other days, to shop as much as they can at local retailers and mom and pop stores.”

While many show optimism for this year’s holiday shopping season, Dr. Rober Fairlie, a professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, published an article in August that emphasizes what most of us know: many small businesses have been shuttered this year due to COVID-19.

“I find that the number of working business owners plummeted from 15 million in February 2020 to 11.7 million in April 2020 because of COVID‐19 mandates and health and economic‐driven demand shifts,” wrote Fairlie. “The loss of 3.3 million active business owners (or 22%) was the largest drop on record.”

This means that while this holiday season could result in normal to above-average sales for existing small businesses like the Uffda Shop, there are millions of former business owners who will not be able to participate in the holiday sales.

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