VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A lot of people are still out there looking for that perfect stocking-stuffer, but you're going to want to place online orders early because shipping deadlines are approaching quickly.
"Everybody is shipping more because we are shopping more online and we're not getting together with family, so we know we're going to ship those gifts ahead of time. [Due to this], shipping deadlines are moved up a little bit forward," said Lisa Renée Jennings, the LOVEVA program manager for Retail Alliance.
With the pandemic, Jennings said less people are shopping in person, so small businesses like Worth the Wait in Virginia Beach are adding an e-commerce element to their business.
"It's much easier to shop and we definitely have seen an uptick in sales on our website because of it," said owner Jennifer Henderson. "The nice thing is that our system is all integrated so whatever we have available in the store is what we have available online."
In addition to offering in-person shopping, the consignment boutique is now also responsible for online inventory and physically sending out packages via the United States Postal Service (USPS).
"We can ship wherever, so I really feel like you don't have to go physically into the store to shop local and show your support," Henderson said. "We ship USPS Priority Mail, and it's normally a two-day mailing."
Considering 2020 has been so unpredictable, Jennings suggests giving businesses at least a week longer than you have in previous years. She said it will help smaller stores who don't have the staffing numbers and resources as a large company.
However, small businesses do have some advantages. Jennings said, "They can pivot quickly. They can use [the] United States Postal Service more quickly, whereas some of the big box stores are only using FedEx or UPS."
If you're worried about a price difference between Amazon and a local store, Jennings said, "What is the real cost to your community? When I spend that dollar at a local store, that dollar is going to circulate around the community because that local store is going to buy fliers at the local print shop; that local store is going to buy pizza for their staff for a job well done and the local pizza shop. Those dollars that you spend locally stay locally."
Another benefit about shopping local is just seeing how much owners appreciate your business. If you shop at Worth the Wait and buy a gift in the store, you’ll get free gift wrapping, and if you order online, you'll get a personalized note.
Jennings and Henderson both said the biggest takeaways are to order early, be patient and shop local.
Click here for the 2020 USPS holiday shipping deadlines.