Shopping local during holiday season has ripple effects

The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping days of the year.  Last year, a record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped the five-day period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, an increase of 14% over 2018, according to the National Retail Federation. 

Shoppers in 2020 are expected to spend more, with Kiplinger’s forecasting a 29% increase in e-commerce compared to 2019 and a 5% bump in in-store sales. Yet those predictions are triggering concern that consumers will end up spending millions at national or international businesses to the detriment of local businesses struggling to keep up amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In Florida, retailers see 20% of their annual sales in November and December, the Florida Retail Federation said. In this unique and challenging year, holiday sales are even more critical for many small businesses on the Space Coast and across the Sunshine State. After months of outright shutdowns and dwindling business and increased operating costs, these retailers are counting on consumers to truly #ShopLocal.

While the pandemic has been hard on everyone, women are more likely than men to own businesses in industries that have been hit hardest by COVID, such as restaurants and retail shops. Women and people of color are also less likely to have the same access to capital as white men. A U.S. House committee report found the federal Paycheck Protection Program left behind many minority- and women-owned businesses because of how banks prioritized their lending.