Even with the pandemic, some Iowans camped out overnight so they could be the first to enjoy today’s Black Friday deals, but the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Iowa hopes the buying fervor will extend into tomorrow — for Small Business Saturday.
Jayne Armstrong, director of the SBA’s Iowa District Office, says local merchants have endured a very challenging year and the holiday shopping season is key to their success.
“The last few months of the shopping could really make a huge difference in their bottom line,” Armstrong says. “We’re really encouraging people to get out and support your local small businesses. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is, especially as we’re waiting for this next round of stimulus.”
COVID-19 has forced many people to avoid shopping in person in stores and Armstrong says you can equally show support for local businesses by seeking out their websites.
“A lot of people are shifting to online this year,” Armstrong says. “One of the smart things that a lot of our Iowa small businesses have done this year during the pandemic is to pivot to more of an online presence.”
One economic forecast predicts in-store sales will be down three-percent this holiday season while online sales will be up 30-percent. For those who physically shop in stores, Armstrong says to look for her and other small business backers who will be fanned out in Iowa’s downtowns and shopping districts.
“We’ll be out there with our signs saying, ‘Honk If You (heart) Small Business,’ and ‘Shop Mom and Pop,’ and ‘Be Loyal, Buy Local,’ those types of things,” Armstrong says. “We really try to lift up the spirits of the small business community because these owners have gone through a lot this year.”
While some small businesses were forced to close during 2020, she says it’s been a pleasant surprise to see so many new small business start-ups in Iowa succeed. Armstrong says 97-percent of the businesses in Iowa are small businesses.