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Declining December retail sales hit especially hard for small businesses

Samantha Fields Jan 18, 2023
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The latest retail sales data shows a larger-than-expected decrease in purchases in December. For small businesses, those declines hit harder. SouthWorks/Getty Images

Declining December retail sales hit especially hard for small businesses

Samantha Fields Jan 18, 2023
Heard on:
The latest retail sales data shows a larger-than-expected decrease in purchases in December. For small businesses, those declines hit harder. SouthWorks/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Retail sales in December declined by more than what many economists expected, according to data released Wednesday. It’s another likely sign the economy is slowing amid declining consumer demand for certain goods.

We checked in with a couple of small business owners to see how the holiday season ended up for them and how they’re feeling about the coming year.

Tiffany Griffin felt like business was a little slower around the holidays this year at her candle company, Bright Black. But when she sat down and did the numbers she was surprised by how much.

“We were down 27% in comparison to the year before,” Griffin said.

Fewer people bought things, and she made less on each candle she did sell because the cost of everything is up, including candle wax and shipping.

“You have these huge, huge increases in really short amounts of time,” she said. “And we actually have not increased prices.”

Not yet, anyway. But she says she’ll likely have to increase prices soon.

Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester, said that times like this, with high inflation, are often harder for small businesses.

“The smaller you are you’re less likely to be able to set your own prices,” Kodali said. “So you’re often … setting the price that the market is setting.”

That’s the case for Jeffrey Blair, who co-owns the EyeSeeMe African American Children’s Bookstore in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Our competition is Amazon,” Blair said. “And so we don’t have that option to raise our prices. So we just have to be creative in what we do.”

They’ve started a book subscription service and they do author events, professional development, and book fairs at schools.

“Around this time of year, going into Black History Month, we’re actually getting a lot of phone calls now,” Blair said. “Especially now with the schools mostly being fully open.”

He said it’s the first time since the pandemic began that they’re able to do book fairs again, and he’s hopeful that will help boost their revenue this year.

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