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Season still holds some yays

Chamber director says extended retail cheer will come with numerous prizes

By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer | Nov 23, 2020

Estherville Chamber director Lexie Ruter says this year, small business Saturday will extend for weeks, from this Friday, Nov. 27 through Dec. 21.

“Shop the Ville for Holi-yay Cheer,” Ruter said. Shoppers who spend $20 or more at participating Estherville retailers and restaurants will be eligible for prizes, including gift cards to local businesses and ChamberBucks.

“There will be numerous winners,” Ruter said.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping days of the year. Last year, a record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped the five-day period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, an increase of 14 percent over 2018, according to the National Retail Federation.

Shoppers in 2020 are expected to spend more, with Kiplinger’s forecasting a 29 percent increase in e-commerce compared to 2019 and a 5% bump in in-store sales. Yet those predictions are triggering concern that consumers will end up spending millions at national or international businesses to the detriment of local businesses struggling to keep up amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The retail trade sector is the third-largest sector in Iowa. Retail provides jobs for over 180,000 workers in Iowa, according to the Iowa Retail Trade Industry Profile.

Retail accounts for 473 jobs in Emmet County Iowa retailers’ top two weeks are Dec. 17-24 followed by Dec. 10-16.

In Iowa, the largest bump in retailers’ daily revenue comes in August for Back to School. With start dates and learning conditions uncertain until the last minute, and some schools starting later, as well as increased unemployment among Iowa’s parents and scaling back on new purchases, that bump was a bit smaller for retailers in 2020. December does present another bump, and retailers told the Iowa Department of Labor that daily and overall increases in revenue in the coming weeks could make the difference in whether they stay open and whether they operate full time.

A big question on the hearts and minds of kids of all ages this time of year is whether Santa Claus is coming to town in the flesh.

Santa is reported to be checking his calendar, twice, and considering a socially distanced visit on a couple of days to his house parked in its usual spot in Library Square. Santa and visitors would wear masks and could speak to Santa on his porch and take photos with kids on the ground and Santa on the porch to ensure safety and social distance.

These plans are still up in the air as the reindeer are practicing extra drills in their annual sweep of the world on Christmas Eve. Many holiday plans are scaled back with elves in quarantine and working from home this year, but it seems certain that while the season looks different this year, there is still no end to Holi-yays and seasonal cheer.