Independent retailers to last minute Christmas shoppers: we’ve got you covered

NEW YORK (AP) – After nearly two tiring years of the pandemic, independent retailers are cautiously hoping their holiday seasons will be bright, despite this year’s challenges ranging from supply chain issues to shortages of hot holiday items .

Many companies have ordered decorations, toys, stockings and other items well in advance this year and have turned to smaller suppliers to fill inventory gaps. They contacted customers directly on social media. And they’re hoping that department store shortages due to supply chain issues this year will lead to an explosion in last-minute shopping in their stores.

So far, concerns about the omicron and the increase in cases have not made a measurable dent on holiday shopping. For the week ended December 18, store traffic increased nearly 20% from the previous year, but down 23% from the same week the year before. pandemic of 2019, according to Sensormatic Solutions. But there are still a few crucial shopping days left.

Smaller retailers are hoping to take advantage of some of the expected growth in holiday sales. The holiday shopping season is crucial as it can account for 20% or more of annual retailer sales and boosts in-store traffic and new customers. The National Retail Federation forecasts an 8.5% to 10.5% increase in sales for all months of November and December, following growth of 8% during those months in 2020.

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U.S. consumers, teeming with cash from government stimulus measures, rising stock prices and increasing home equity, have continued to spend despite high inflation and the ongoing pandemic. This puts pressure on the global supply chain, forcing business owners to scramble to source the products consumers want.

Last December, sellers warned Teresa Pries that shipping costs would be on the rise. Pries, owner of two Revival 23 clothing and gift shops in Fresno and Clovis, Calif., Made a bet for this year: she ordered about four times what she normally would have done before the price increases did. come into force. She also rented storage units for the first time to have room for additional inventory.

“It’s a little scary to be a small business that invests so much, but it has really paid off, our customers are thrilled,” she said. “We thought, OK, let’s go. This is probably one of the best business decisions we have ever made. Scary but good.

This bet paid off a lot for Pries; its sales are up 90% compared to the same period last year. Now her concern is less whether she bought too many items, but the fact that she is selling items.

“I’m almost sold out for every candle which has been a big giveaway,” she said.
Regarding concerns that omicron is slowing down traffic in stores: “We haven’t seen anything that would indicate this is a factor,” she said.

Other companies are maintaining the practices they started during the pandemic. Ann Cantrell has owned Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn for 14 years. She said social media promotions to reach customers during the pandemic always increased sales, including a video of new items every Friday.

“When something new happens, we put it in our [Instagram] Online story, ”she said. “We really relied on that video a lot every Friday. It started during the pandemic and had an immediate reaction. “

Nonetheless, she is concerned that some sales may be hampered by the supply chain. For important items, she ordered from several suppliers. For example, she ordered Hanukkah gelts – pieces of chocolate wrapped in foil – from three vendors and got two out of three.

“I think this is the year you see it, you buy it, at certain levels of the supply chain,” she said. “We are grateful for what we have in store and look forward to some exciting things that we ordered months ago and are still waiting for. “

Corey O’Loughlin and Nina Vitalino are co-owners of Prep Obsessed in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., An online store that also has a physical location. Black Friday sales jumped more than 30% from a year ago, a relief for owners.

“I think our biggest takeaway [from the Black Friday shopping weekend] It’s just that we’re only limited by the inventory we can get and the speed of shipping the product, ”Vitalino said. “If we can get other quality products, we can sell it. “

They had issues with delays getting items from some larger vendors, such as clothing, gift, and home decor merchant Mud Pie. So they got creative, sourcing “from smaller sellers, mom and pop wholesalers that we had never done big business with before,” Vitalino said.

“Customers regularly comment on how satisfied they are with our inventory levels and selection,” said O’Loughlin. “Most of the large retailers are fully screened at this point, but we have a full stock of our items. “

Businesses are hoping for a surge in the final days before Christmas. Guido Campello, co-CEO of Journelle, operates four lingerie stores, three in Manhattan and one in Chicago. Journelle also has its own line of lingerie. He stored about 35% more for the holidays. So far, this has paid off, with sales up 30% from Black Friday shopping weekend compared to a year ago.

Having products in stock will stimulate last-minute purchases, Campello expects. “It’s very clear, my team calls each other, goes out to the stores to do some shopping for ourselves. No one has inventory, no one has sizes. This is a size-oriented category. Each bra should have 14 different sizes and colors.

While sold-out sales are always a problem at the last minute, Campello says they are spreading the word that they will have plenty of offers. The store’s pre-Christmas social ad says, “We’ve got stock, we’ve got you covered. “

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