Local businesses hopeful for New Year after bouncing back in 2021

RALIEGH,N.C. (WTVD) -- After a challenging 2020, local businesses are hopeful that a strong finish to this year will continue in 2022.

Mastercard Spending Pulse reported that holiday sales were up 8.5% compared to 2020, the largest year-over-year increase in 17 years.

At Lafayette Village in Raleigh, Kesha Dozier, co-owner of The Chocolate Boutique, said sales were down 60% in 2020, but have rebounded this year.

"What we're seeing is people really want to get back in and shop. Not only do they want to come in and shop, they want to know how we're doing, like as a small business. So we've seen about 23% growth this year over last year even, so it's been one of our largest years over our 10-year history," said Dozier.

Dozier noted the store was forced to pivot due to the pandemic, as fewer people opted for in-store shopping last year. To adjust, they relied on online sales and partnering with other businesses on private events.

"Having the local support, from the community has been tremendous. It helps us on days where we're going through challenges that small businesses are experiencing right now. Staffing, being able to get ingredients with shipping and things like that," said Dozier.

Around the corner, Cindy Jones, owner of Savory Spice Shop, said they also had to make changes to how they operate, with curbside pickups initially a popular option. That's changed, with customers now more comfortable to return in-person.

"People really looked forward to getting back into shops. Seeing one another, and just getting to experience the whole touch and smell and all that our shop offers," said Jones.

Jones explained her sales were down about 30% in 2020, but are up in 2021, with holiday business exceeding expectations.

"I think people have been so supportive. The focus has been small business. We've seen a lot of new customers in the past year actually. Not just from locally, but from out of state," said Jones.

Jones anticipates the growth in 2021 will continue next year.

"I like to think it (will), as long as we don't have any more lockdowns. But I'm hopeful. Without hope, what do we have? That's something we're looking forward to seeing," said Jones.

Both owners also pointed to an unexpected element such as unseasonably warm weather, which has helped.

"100% (I) do believe that the milder temperatures has definitely played a part in the increased foot traffic in the community," said Dozier.

They also credited their affiliation with Shop Local Raleigh, a non-profit organization that promotes local businesses, for highlighting smaller retailers.
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