With one week away from Christmas, shoppers are hitting up stores big and small to finish up their gift list. Many told KPIX this holiday season feels almost like 2019 normal. They noticed more people are out and about, fewer masks, and people walking around with an upbeat attitude.
But does that translate into more spending?
“The way it’s going now, I think we’ll beat 2019 this year. For that, I’m thankful,” said Sonny Han, owner of Payn’s Stationery.
Han said 2019 was his best year. He’s been in business for 23 years on Solano Avenue in Berkeley.
“I plan on working every day until the end of the month, except for Christmas day,” said Han.
That’s because December is his most important month. He said it accounts for about 30 percent of his annual sales.
Across the street from Han’s store, at Shoes on Solano, the store is offering discounts to draw more customers in.
“In comparison to last year, I would say people are buying less expensive things than last year. Foot traffic is similar. And in comparison to 2019, our foot traffic is still lower than what it used to be,” said Myranda Eversole-Rose, the regional manager of Shoes on Solano.
Many small businesses on Solano Avenue told KPIX they’re making less money this holiday season compared to last year.
They blamed inflation and online shopping.
“Being sheltered in place for so long has kind of taught people how to shop alternatively,” said Eversole-Rose.
The shops on Solano Avenue are known to be more laid back, community-oriented, and easy to get in and out of. Business owners said most of their loyal customers live within 10 miles.
It’s a huge contrast from Union Square. The popular San Francisco shopping district was packed on Saturday evening with thousands of people walking around.
But one thing people noticed was most people leaving the stores left empty-handed, without shopping bags.
“This year, I’m spending less than in prior years,” said shopper Petra Macega of Petaluma.
She had just gotten out of Macy’s with a large bag of gifts.
The Department of Commerce reported U.S. retail sales fell 0.6 percent in November from October.
The report said people were cutting back on consumer electronics, clothing, and sporting goods.
Many shoppers told KPIX 5 they were spending less because of the economic uncertainties and a looming recession.
“Bargain shopping, looking for all the sales,” said Amy Geller of Capitola.
Han said he’s very lucky that his store is doing better than expected so far this holiday season.
“I’m approaching my goal. And I think to myself ‘hey, I’ve got six more days of Christmas season left,’ it’s a great feeling,” said Han.