STILLWATER, Minn. (FOX 9) - Many local business owners in Stillwater say they’re seeing an increase in customers and spending compared to last year when many were staying home and shopping online.
"Holiday shopping for 2021 has been wonderful it’s been outstanding," said Kelli Caufer, owner of Smith and Trade, a store that features products from more than 100 local artists and makers.
A Stillwater business owner says they're seeing more people buying local this holiday season. (FOX 9)
Kelli says customers have told her they are intentionally buying local or handmade this holiday.
"People are really coming out and are wanting to be supportive of the local businesses and handmade products," she said.
"A lot of customers are saying how they’re intentionally shopping local, avoiding shopping online, which is really nice. So they’re very supportive," Sara Brownson, who works at Alfresco, said.
She says last year they saw fewer people come into the store. During the holiday shopping rush last year, COVID-19 infection rates were high, the vaccine was not widely available, and many businesses like restaurants faced restrictions like take-out business only. Sara says this year, traffic in the store is "busy."
"Yes, it’s a world of difference," she said.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent 8.2 percent more than 2019, the highest year-to-year increase in at least 20 years. This year, that percentage of growth is expected to be even higher.