BROAD RIPPLE, Ind. – Shopping will look different this holiday season as many businesses change their approach to accommodate COVID-19 social distancing measures.
With some of the busiest shopping days around the corner, many major retailers have already kicked off Black Friday deals, making it easier for shoppers to get the items they want without needing to head to the stores.
But in a year where many small businesses across the country had to pivot and adapt to stay afloat, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is encouraging people to consider shopping local this season.
“46% of small business owners are counting on above average holiday sales to stay in business in 2021,” the American Express Shop Small Impact Study found.
The study shows 64% have a positive outlook for their sales and say that this year’s Small Business Saturday is more critical than ever.
“There’s a number of ways that you can support the small businesses in your community and in your area,” said Laura Schnafsnitz, public affairs specialist for the U.S. SBA Indiana District Office.
“Of course, if you’re comfortable with it, take a drive around town, see who’s open,” she said.
Schnafsnitz said small businesses make up a significant portion of businesses in the state of Indiana.
“Over 98% of the businesses in the State of Indiana are considered small businesses, and they employ over 50% of Indiana residents. Let me say that again, they employ over 50% of Indiana residents,” she explained.
She said Indiana has a program through their Office of Community and Rural Affairs, which is a resource for people looking for small business resources or businesses to support.
“They have a Google map under Small Business Saturday, where you just put in a keyword or a location that you’re looking for, and that’s gonna pull up a Google map of small businesses across the entire state of Indiana,” said Schnafsnitz.
The map also includes businesses that have websites for people interested in looking at what they are offering and how they are conducting business amid COVID-19.
In Broad Ripple, many small businesses are also preparing for Small Business Saturday, hoping for a successful turnout and an even more successful holiday shopping season.
“We have dozens of small businesses that are really going to be making a holiday push, especially with the challenges they faced this year, so shopping local is more important than ever,” said Colleen Fanning, executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association.
Fanning said businesses in Broad Ripple have been fortunate throughout the pandemic, but she knows the impact it has had on many small businesses across the U.S. and in the state.
“It’s been devastating. It’s been incredibly challenging. We’re lucky here in Broad Ripple. We have a ton of businesses that have been able to adapt and roll with the punches.
“Nevertheless, they need our support more than ever before,” she said.
According to the SBA, if you are shopping local this season, they encourage you to get your shopping done earlier to prepare for any possible delays due to supply chain issues.
“Go out, shop small, shop early, shop safe,” said Schnafsnitz. “One of the challenges that small business owners are finding and telling us that they’re finding is there’s been a shift in the supply chain.”
She said, for products and services many small businesses were able to order in one day, turn around and receive in two or three days, they are now seeing those time frames extended.
“A lot of times in the holiday season we’ve gotten used to some folks are able to say, “order it on Christmas Eve and we’ll get it to your doorstep on Christmas day.” I don’t think you’re gonna see a lot of that this year.”
“Supply chain issues have definitely been rampant during COVID,” said Fanning. “Definitely shop early. We don’t know what closures and restrictions are coming, so shop when you’re able to shop, and I would say sooner is definitely better than later.”
Fanning said businesses in Broad Ripple are taking precautionary measures to keep in-person shoppers safe this weekend and throughout the holiday season.
“They are being so incredibly innovative, obviously from distancing and masks, to curbside ordering, to appointment-only shopping, to online, pickup. You name it, Broad Ripple businesses are doing it, so they’re very committed to keeping customers safe.”
“Shop early. Go online. However you do your holiday shopping, do it now, and that’s really our biggest recommendation we’ve received from our small business owners,” Schnafsnitz said.
“They are the ones paying local taxes. They are the ones involved in your community and making it a safe, great place to live, work and play, so why wouldn’t you want to support your small businesses?”
“If you love your local businesses, spend your money there,” Fanning said.
According to data from the SBA, small businesses made up 99% of businesses in the U.S. in 2018 and accounted for 47.5% of employees in the private workforce.