Countdown to Christmas: Holiday retail trends look dim as many struggle during pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Christmas is now less than a week away, so businesses big and small are trying to cash in on holiday shoppers

However, the last-minute shopping rush looks quite a bit different this year.

The National Retail Federation said more than 150 million plan to shop on this Super Saturday, where the call to shop small remains.

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As the Christmas lights glimmer along Chicago's Magnificent Mile, experts said the holiday retail trends are looking dim.

"There was a downturn in retail sales in December which has never happened before," said Mary Ann Mcgrath, a marketing professor at the Loyola Quinlan School of Business.

Mcgrath said the pandemic has pushed even more people to shop online.

She said this holiday, season shoppers are also spending less money on gifts.

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Top purchases so far include electronics and basic needs.

"That really tells you something about the state of the economy," Mcgrath said. "There were so many people stressed for basics like food and housing."

One sales trend that is positive in 2020 is that more people are making the conscious effort to shop local.

The Chicago Makers Pop Up Shop in Wicker Park is now selling one of a kind items from more than two dozen area small businesses.

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"Amazing," Romo said. "Like beyond any expectations that we could have had."

Many of whom were struggling during the pandemic.

"We started this out of the necessity of what are we going to do with our own business," said Anna Romo with Chicago Makers Pop Up Shop. "I lost my job in March because of the pandemic."

Romo and her business partner are selling their own handmade products.

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These sales are a lifeline for local businesses.

"I think this has been so helpful because so many small businesses rely on holiday markets and all of them have been closed," said Monica Little, Romo's partner. "We rely on this for a living and if you find something you love it helps all of us."

Shopping will continue into the new year. More than 60% of shoppers plan to shop the week following Christmas.
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