More shoppers in the Twin Cities are expected to hit stores early for the holiday season with most planning to check off items on their holiday gift lists before Thanksgiving.
A larger number of gift givers still plan, though, to trek out on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, a new survey by professional service firm Deloitte shows. And most have bigger holiday budgets this year.
"We're not dealing with a normal year," said Matt Marsh, managing partner of Deloitte's Minneapolis office. "We've got a bounce-back year with the pandemic, physical-versus-online will be different than we've seen in prior years and then just how the consumer responds to stock outs and inflationary pressures. I think it's going to be a really interesting holiday season to unfold."
People in the Twin Cities metro area are expected to spend about $1,054 for the holidays, an increase from last year when people budgeted considerably less mainly because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, according to Deloitte's survey. The local spending estimate, as it is most years, is less than the national average of $1,463.
Local stores owners said they are ready, however spending patterns play out.
The Kiddywampus toy store in Hopkins has turned to midsized manufacturers, which seem to have more inventory than larger companies, to stock up and plans to add a November pop-up at the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park.
"We're definitely seeing people do their holiday shopping in October this year," said Kiddywampus owner Amy Saldanha, who has moved her stores' holiday schedules earlier.
One-third of local shoppers say they plan to start shopping earlier than usual compared to 5% last year, according to the Deloitte survey. Those who do aim to shop before Thanksgiving plan to spend 45% more than those who start later.
While avoiding crowds is still a big factor why people say they want to shop soon, the top reason for local shoppers to get started earlier is because of the possibility of empty shelves with worldwide supply-chain issues that have made it more difficult for goods to be moved from overseas.
"The perception is that it might be way worse than it really is," Marsh said, "but still that will drive behavior and people are going to shop now with the fear that product may not be there when they want to go [during] the normal Thanksgiving-to-Christmas shopping time."
In the years preceding the pandemic, retailers had already started sales earlier than Black Friday, but not as pronounced as this year. Online shopping will again be huge as well. Twin Cities respondents said they would spend nearly 60% of holiday budgets online.
But still expect more foot traffic on Black Friday than last year, Marsh said. Among respondents, 37% said they plan to shop in physical stores for the holidays compared with 28% last year.
More Twin Cities residents also plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, the shopping event the day after Black Friday created to push people to local and independent sales. Almost 30% said they would shop then, up from 21% last year.
"We think the holidays especially is the time when people are more thoughtful and considerate of the aspect of buy local," said Chris Walton, co-founder of online shopping portal Urban Rooster that launched last holiday season as a platform for local small businesses.
The eclectic Patina boutiques are experiencing the benefits from the "shop local" movement, said co-owner Christine Ward. Sales have rebounded to better than 2019 levels, and the independent local chain recently expanded its Golden Valley store. It also moved its northeast Minneapolis store into a bigger space in Roseville.
"If you were able to navigate 2020 and sort of adapt and adjust the game plan," Ward said, "then I think the customers want to support you."
Patina is stocked up with jewelry, beautiful cookbooks and "Someone in MN Loves You" mugs and wine glasses to meet demand.
"Our warehouse is full, so we're ready," Ward said.
Out of all the holiday spending categories Deloitte tracks, the biggest spending jump is in the home and kitchen category. Also a larger portion of holiday budgets will be spent on experiences in the home and away at hotels and restaurants.
Patina has expanded its home category offerings, such as craft cocktail mixtures and charcuterie boards, whether as gifts or for hosting the more frequent small get-togethers this year.
"There's still this entertaining at home resurgence whereas I think two years ago there was more of an emphasis on eating out and being outside your home," Ward said.
A hot seller for foodies at Golden Fig Fine Foods has always been locally made shortbread cookies with cayenne pepper, said Laurie Crowell, owner of the Grand Avenue shop.
Crowell, who's been in business 25 years, is hoping her longtime connections will help her stay stocked up. "I'm so grateful we've had these long relationships so we're closer to the top of the line," she said.