Story by Lindsay Cates, Manager in Communications and Strategy, U.S Chamber of Commerce
Choosing to shop small is choosing to invest in your community. This year, it’s even more meaningful as small businesses face a variety of challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The holiday season, particularly after the past two years, is critical to our survival as a business, and we are always thankful for our supporters who help ensure a strong quarter before moving into the slower, colder months of the year,” said Victoria Kidd, Owner of Hideaway Café in Winchester, Virginia.
Consumers across the country agree. More than 9 in 10 (93%) shoppers said that supporting small business is more important than ever because of the pandemic, according to a recent QuickBooks survey.
The holiday season is always a critical time for local shops and restaurants—but this year businesses face unique challenges. Supply chain disruptions are holding up crucial goods and supplies, while the ongoing labor shortage means many small business owners are running their businesses short-staffed, or on limited hours.
For example, Adam and Amy Fazackerley, owners of bag company Lay-n-go, said the cost of a 40-foot container to ship product from Southeast Asia to the United States around this time of year was previously $5,000. The price is now $25,000. For Joe Shamess, Co-Founder of Flags of Valor, not being able to find enough workers impacts the manufacturing capacity at his veteran-owned small business in Virginia that creates wooden American flag works of art.
And this year, all signs point to high consumer demand. Nearly half (46%) of consumers started holiday shopping earlier this year than they typically do, according to a National Retail Federation survey .That’s good news for our economic recovery. A strong season this winter makes a big impact on local businesses and local communities.
For every dollar spent at a small business, American Express estimates an average of $0.67 stays in that business’s local community. This has the potential to boost sales during the 2021 holiday season, with many small businesses still working to make up the revenue they’ve lost throughout the pandemic.
Data from the MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Q4 Small Business Index, to be released in December, indicates that a large majority of small business owners (70%) say the holiday season is important to their overall yearly profit, with nearly four in ten (37%) saying it’s very important.
Shop Small Everyday
This year, shopping small is easier than ever as many small businesses have bulked up their online presence during the pandemic. Kevin Hubbard, co-founder of Rhoback Activewear in Charlottesville, Virginia, says that with the growth of the digital economy, more and more entrepreneurs are starting businesses online.
If you want to get out and shop small in person, American Express has an interactive map where you can find small businesses in your area. Jeff Good, owner of Broad Street Baking Company in Jackson, Mississippi, adds that one of the best ways people can support small businesses is by buying gift cards.
One thing to remember this year: be kind.
“Small Business Saturday and the holiday season is critical for Main Street, but there is a real need this year for kindness, appreciation, and patience,” said Tom Sullivan, Vice President for Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Businesses have been facing worker shortages and supply chain challenges for months. Having grace and understanding for the employees at your favorite local restaurant or corner store will ensure a smooth and successful holiday season for shoppers and workers.”