Durham businesses hope to maintain momentum heading into holiday season

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Monday, September 5, 2022
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Following a challenging 2020, Durham businesses shared the first eight months of 2022 have seen a continuation of growth from last year.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Following a challenging 2020, Durham businesses shared that the first eight months of 2022 have seen a continuation of growth from last year.

"Without our local support, we'd be nothing. We would be nothing. School coming back, coming back in session obviously makes a difference. We're getting more students than we ever did. I'm not sure to what I should attribute that, but' it's true. The development in the area I think makes a big difference. More people are finding us," said Carol Anderson, owner of Vaguely Reminiscent in Durham.

Located on 9th Street, right near Duke's campus, it's been open for 40 years.

"2021 kept building and building and building, every month. And 2022 has been no different. Our business is better than it's ever, ever been," said Anderson.

Earlier this year, the National Retail Federation predicted retail sales growth of 6 to 8%, with a larger bump in online sales.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Anderson credited customers purchasing gift cards, which she'd deliver directly to homes, as key to helping the business stay afloat. Another key addition included pivoting in how they sold products.

"We never had a website before I just didn't want to deal with it. But (one of our employees) put together a website that made a huge difference," Anderson explained.

Becoming proficient in online sales, was essential for Lael Clark as well, who launched her children's clothing business Dooli Clothing Company in September 2020.

"Really just learning the whole online, social media marketing. Wasn't really expecting on having to do that, and that was just a beast in itself. So during the pandemic, we relied heavily on online marketing," said Clark.

The UNC graduate, who was teaching pre-school prior to the pandemic, has welcomed the return of in-person events and festivals this year.

"Especially being a boutique style like this, where I get more business when people can see the stuff in front of them, when they can touch it and feel it, we're able to have a lot more sales. So this summer, this year, has been great. Just having so many openings, having so many opportunities to be in front of someone weekly has been amazing," said Clark.

While her staffing is in good shape, she has been affected by shortages elsewhere.

"Our manufacturer is having staffing issues. So they're short-staffed, so they're not able to get their product to us as quickly as they were before. So now it's having to plan far in advance," said Clark.

That's meant already putting in orders for the upcoming holiday season to ensure they arrive on-time, as she continues to face delays.

"(Last year) we got a couple of shipments later than we expected. But now, it's a lot more. Like two to three months out vs. being able to get it in 30 days," Clark explained.

North Carolina's unemployment rate in July was 3.4%, slightly below the national average of 3.5%; year-over-year, the state's unemployment rate has dropped from 4.9%.

Anderson added they have also faced delays in products, but have been fortunate to find alternative sourcing when necessary, and said customers have been understanding.