At least 100,000 small businesses have had to close permanently in the last nine months, according to data gathered by Yelp. Millions more have dealt with temporary closures and major losses in revenue.
Now, many remaining small businesses are reliant on a strong holiday shopping season, and there’s finally some good news for these business owners and their employees.
For example, at the Boston area small business called Boing Toy Shop, owner Kim Mitchell has been working overtime for the pasting nine months. She has had drastically change her business model.
“In certain ways, I feel like although I am in the same physical footprint, I am almost running a completely different business,” said Mitchell.
Since the start of the pandemic, Mitchell has had to shift more than half of her business online and added curbside pickup to keep her toy shop out of the red.
“In certain ways, I almost feel like we are part store-front, part warehouse,” she added.
However, in many ways, she still feels lucky to have some form of her business when so many other small businesses have had to close.
“One of the first ones, unfortunately, was the store right across the street from me,” said Mitchell.
The boutique clothing store across the street from Boing is just one of an estimated 27 percent of small businesses that have closed across the country, according to a Harvard University Project. And without a strong holiday season, even more permanent closures are feared.
So, how has the holiday shopping season been so far for small businesses?
“I had by far my most successful small business Saturday, which I did turn into small business weekend. I sort of stretched it,” said Mitchell. “There definitely is a sense, and I have a sense from my customers, that they are making a conscious decision to support their local businesses.”
From Boing to stores around the country, consumers opened their wallets more than ever on Small Business Saturday. According to Adobe Analytics data, they spent a record $4.7 billion just online.
“Smaller retailers have seen a 501 percent increase in revenue through the holiday season so far relative to a typical day in October,” said John Copeland with Adobe Analytics,” “From a percentage increase, small and medium-sized businesses are outperforming in terms of percentage gains.”
From Adobe’s holiday shopping data to the Boston toy shops’ experience, it is clear consumers are conscious of how much mom and pop businesses are struggling and how important it is to help them and the workers they employ.
"It is really nice that, especially in a time like this, where we really need the community’s support in return. They are coming out and realizing that ‘hey, these small businesses have been there for us for a long time; now it is time to get their back,’” added Mitchell.