KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — For many, Black Friday is the start to holiday shopping, but how much will high inflation affect wish lists this year?
Shopper Ann Brothers said she is trying to spend her money locally this year, heading into the Black Friday rush with a Small Business Saturday mindset.
“It’s kind of a win-win: I get something unique for somebody and then I also support local businesses, which are very important,” Ann explained.
While it is forecasting record holiday sales this year, the National Retail Association also reports 46% of consumers say “they’ve already started shopping due to concerns about inflation and getting the best deals.”
Nate Hindman and his daughters are in that group, but it didn’t steer them away from checking off their wish list and helping small businesses, too.
“We’re here hoping for some good sales and getting some early Christmas shopping done, instead of waiting until Christmas,” Hindman said. “You got to cut corners in some places. You can’t spend on (or) buy everything you want.”
Shopper Genise Brothers said she and her husband decided to be proactive in making the necessary tradeoffs to take on a better holiday shopping budget.
“We don’t eat out as much. We spend more time cooking at home and doing things at home, but then that allows us to come out and shop at a place like this or go out,” Genise explained.
For small business owners, it’s been a different story for the better. Lauren Lasater said her Kalamazoo art studio and boutique Colors & Cocktails saw some green over the last year with an 11% jump in net revenue. She has noticed both her regular customers and new ones stopping by.
“The trends are, I would say, the same if not better right now,” Lasater said. “People … time and time again, really want to see the success of our businesses happen and stay here. Because, of course, the more business that goes to Amazon and the big-box retailers means that it’s less dollars spent in our little community.”
Up the street, V & A Bootery CEO Bill Van Dis saw a holiday rush already before Small Business Saturday came around.
“It’s more than a typical Friday,” Van Dis said. “We don’t have the downtown workers here but we have people coming down. A lot of people are in town for the holiday.”
Van Dis said inflation increased freight costs with his vendors earlier this year but some of that has been mitigated, with his 2022 numbers looking better than 2019’s and more holiday shoppers expected this weekend.
“All the majors are promoting on Friday, that’s where (customers are) going first. But they come around to us when they know they’re going to get value, good service,” Van Dis said.
Both Van Dis and Lasater say they will be among the small businesses offering specials in store to celebrate the start of the season.