Small Business Saturday could make or break retailers hit hard by pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 160,000 businesses nationwide have closed their doors and more than half of them are closed for good, according to the latest Yelp Local Economic Impact Report.

It's been a tough year for small businesses, in particular, following the robust sales that closed out the last year.  In 2019, about 110 million shoppers went out on Small Business Saturday over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and they bought a lot, setting a record-high $19.6 billion in sales, according to American Express.

"Hopefully, we will have a great day on Saturday, whether that’s just people looking, and then they’ll come back," said Carey Lucas, of Betty’s Antiques Shop.

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That happens a lot inside her family's boutique, one of 33 stores in Downtown Melbourne. Someone might spot an item go home and think about it and then decide they can’t live without it.

"My mom’s been here for 28 years, so I’ve moved everything in the store around at least a dozen times," Lucas added.

She comes from generations of small business owners, but Essential Elements Wellness is newer to the scene.

Owner Cheri Flauto displays the shop’s inventory of herbs and stones -- anything you might need to make your life a little more "Zen."

"It’s a lot of fun!  You can walk around and feel them. They’re not just pretty; they actually attract you to what you need energetically, whether that's to calm down to center and focus, to ground," Flauto explained.

Maybe you feel like 2020 has been a rough year and you want to purge some of that negative energy, try a candle for flexibility and acceptance.

Another concern is that shopping habits have also shifted this year as more people are trying to play it safe by shopping online instead of in person. According to Gallup’s annual holiday spending predictions, Americans will spend an average of $805 on Christmas gifts this year, significantly below its estimate a year ago and the lowest holiday spending projection since 2016.

However, the U.S. Small Business Administration says the economy is picking back up as we head into the holidays. 

Some small businesses also offer shopping online.  Many are hoping if Small Business Saturday doesn’t have the profits, Cyber Monday is next.