Small retailers, including local shop owners in Livingston County, are expecting good sales as the holiday shopping season kicks off this weekend.
"I think more than ever people are wanting to support local because local had such a hard time during COVID, when small businesses were hit hard while big boxes could stay open because they were considered essential," Hartland Township shop owner Kristy Ellis said.
Ellis, who owns gift and home décor shop That's What She Shed Boutique, said she has already seen an uptick in holiday shoppers.
"It's getting busier quick," she said. "People come in and say they want to support small businesses."
She said small shops like hers might have some advantages over larger retailers.
"I think people are getting worried about shipping," Ellis said. "A lot of the big stores are having issues getting their products. We make a lot of the stuff we sell, so at least that helps."
Consumers in the U.S. who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday last year spent an estimated $19.8 billion, up from $19.6 billion in 2019, according to the 2020 American Express Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey.
Small Business Saturday, which falls the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was launched by American Express in 2010.
The survey found 97% of shoppers recognized the positive impact they can make by shopping local.
Howell bakery owner Teresa Chalifour said she hopes holiday sales will rival last year's sales.
"Last year, we had an excellent December. It was actually overwhelming," Chalifour, who owns the Chocolate Boutique and Bakery, said. "We had great support from the community. It was more than I expected. It was fantastic."
"I can't ask for anything more than what we did last year but I'd be very thankful if it is more."
She said she expect trays of assorted sweets, including cannoli, cookies, cheesecakes and more, will be popular as people prepare for holiday dinners and parties.
A boost from online presence
Social media buzz and online ordering are also helping small retailers, according to the American Express survey.
Ellis said her store's Facebook page had a post from February go viral.
The post features photos of coffee mugs the shop designed featuring images and quotes from Younan Nowzaradan, also known as Dr. Now, who appears on TLC's television show "My 600-lb Life."
As of Monday, the post had been shared more than 39,000 times and there are more than 18,000 comments.
"After that thousands of the mugs got ordered. We probably sold over 3,000. It was page sharing. I still get orders," Ellis said.
She said the shop is also getting more online orders for customizable décor.
"We're definitely getting more online orders now for gifts, like we do a handmade sign that you can customize," Ellis said. "It says "The love between family knows no distance" with two states on it."
More than 50% of Americans who reported shopping at local businesses on Small Business Saturday last year said they supported a small business through social media or shopped at a business because of a recommendation on social media.
Small retailers also pivoted to more online sales. In the survey, 56% of Small Business Saturday shoppers said they shopped online with a small business that day, an increase from 43% in 2019.
Chalifour said social media and online ordering boosted business at the Chocolate Boutique and Bakery
"We use social media, on Facebook, on Instagram, and also we have DoorDash. We get really good volume with DoorDash and the website."
She said she has seen more engagement on the store's social media accounts.
"It will tell us how many new likes we got this month or new shares, and it has increased," Chalifour said
Saturday deals in Howell
Dozens of Howell shops, restaurants and other businesses participate in special promotional events on Small Business Saturday.
Howell Main Street, Inc. is promoting shopping small with giveaways, coupons and free gift wrapping service.
Shopper and diners can pick up a free tote bag of giveaways and coupons for downtown businesses beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at Frontal Lobe Coworking, at 110 E. Grand River Ave.
Frontal Lobe Coworking will also host free gift wrapping for things people buy from downtown merchants until 4 p.m.
As of Tuesday, 19 shops, restaurants and other businesses in downtown Howell were listed as participants on Howell Main Street, Inc.'s website. Participating businesses usually offer specials and giveaways.
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.
This article originally appeared on Livingston Daily: Livingston County's retailers eager for Small Business Saturday