Black Friday 2020: Small businesses brace for slow sales as holiday shoppers go online

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many small, neighborhood retailers are bracing for a struggle this year as the holiday shopping season gets underway amid the pandemic.

"I am hopeful that we are going to keep getting through this," said D'Cher Whitaker, owner of Love Periodot.

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Hope is what many shop owners have been holding onto this year. And they'll be relying on that even more during what will be a challenging holiday shopping season.

"My concerns will probably be, if we have a mandatory shutdown, then we are no longer able to service our customers coming in the store," said Marquisha Washington, owner of Sultry Steps Boutique, a women's clothing boutique at Roosevelt Collection Shops in the South Loop.

"We used to be open 7 days a week and of course due to COVID, there are certain days that we decided to close because just, the volume is pretty low," she said.

Shannon Ridgeway is the general manager of the Roosevelt Collection Shops. She said the key is creating special experiences to attract foot traffic for Black Friday.

"I think you also need to be creative and offer different reasons for people to come and shop," Ridgeway said.

Despite the pandemic, some shops here have seen more customers and they believe that will continue through the holidays. Most of their revenue coming from online shoppers.

"Because of the civil unrest and because of people have been putting a highlight on Black businesses in particular, we have kind of had a surge of our online orders, which had thankfully saved us," said Keea Nurullah, owner of Kido.

"Online sales have picked up tremendously because people are at home, but they still want to shop," Whitaker said. "They still want to support small and they want to support Black."

If you are planning on supporting a small business this holiday season and want to shop online because of the pandemic, store owners say to do it sooner than later to make sure your gift gets to its destination on time.
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