With Christmas just days away, and e-commerce shipping deadlines long since passed, last-minute shoppers are relying on local stores and shopping centers for those final holiday gift purchases.
Miamisburg resident Sabrina Reid spent Wednesday morning at the Greene Town Center checking the last items off her Christmas shopping list. Though she typically purchases most gifts online, she said she realized too late that she’d forgotten a few things.
“I’m just coming out to finish up the last little pieces for everyone that I don’t have enough for,” Reid said. “Once you get all your (gift purchases) sorted out and organized to see what you bought, a lot of times you realize, ‘Oh, I’ve got to run and get that,’ and that’s exactly what I’m doing today.”
Molly Winblad, an employee at Living Simply Soap in downtown Tipp City, was busy this week serving the final rush of customers before the holiday weekend. Though the store offers online sales, Winblad said many customers typically prefer to shop in person.
“We have a very loyal following ... and people want to come in; they want to feel the lotions and smell the products,” she said.
The store was bustling Tuesday, with employees busy helping customers and wrapping gifts, while shoppers took advantage of the sunshine ahead of this weekend’s forecasted winter weather.
Inflation leading to more practical, less frivolous spending for some
Ohio shoppers were predicted to increase their spending by 3.4% this holiday shopping season compared to last year, according to research from the University of Cincinnati.
Ohio retailers are forecasted to have $31.3 billion in sales from October to December, up from the almost $30.3 billion in holiday retail revenues last year, according to research by UC’s Alpaugh Family Economics Center done for the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
While the continued growth is a positive indicator for Ohio’s economy, the state is still lagging behind national figures, with spending predicted to have increased nationally this season by 6-8%, according to the National Retail Federation.
Inflation has been growing since 2015, according to the Midwest Consumer Price Index. Significant increases began in 2020 with a 6.6% increase from October 2020 to October 2021 and a 7.4% increase from October 2021 to October 2022.
Reid, 60, said inflation has had a direct effect on her family’s spending habits. Along with buying less gifts altogether, Reid and her family are also shifting holiday traditions to cut costs.
“This year, we’re not stuffing stockings. We’re not buying the little trinkets and the junk; we’re buying things that really matter,” she said. “It’s sad because kids don’t understand why Santa didn’t fill their stocking this year. I don’t have to deal with that since my kids are grown, but I guarantee there are mothers that absolutely are.”
Consumers value ‘shopping small,’ supporting local businesses
Jackie and Jeff Clark also wrapped up their shopping at the Greene Wednesday. Though typically not procrastinators when it comes to gift buying, the Clarks said a bout of COVID earlier this month left them playing catch up.
Jackie said though her family is also feeling the effects of inflation, their holiday spending has stayed about the same this year. The couple estimates their online versus in-store shopping is 50/50, and when possible, they make an effort to shop local.
“As business owners ourselves, we like to support other small business owners,” Jeff said. The couple owns and operates Asphalt Sealcoaters of Dayton.
Gina Craun, of Tipp City, was shopping in the city’s downtown business district this week, which is home to nearly two dozen locally-owned shops.
“Time-wise, Amazon is a little easier, but I do try to shop local,” Craun said. “If we don’t support these small shops, they won’t be here, and that’s what I love about living here.”
Local business owners feeling, offering community support
Serendipity Paper Co. opened on Main Street in Tipp City just three months ago. Manager Julie Wallace describes the store as “eclectic and snarky.”
“We have a lot of random things that you didn’t know you needed,” she said. “We’ve got cards, journals, books, glassware, key chains, and lots of things from local artists. We try to offer a lot of items from women-owned businesses, and things that you can’t find on Amazon. We try to keep things as local as we can.”
Wallace said it’s important for customers to know the significance of thinking locally when it comes to shopping, and not just around the holidays.
“I also shop at big box stores, but when you’re shopping small, you’re supporting that person directly,” she said. “Even just taking $20 and spending it locally makes a huge difference ... You’re not paying for a spaceship or to buy out another company, you’re supporting someone in your community and that is so important.”
Samantha Wildow contributed to this report.
Avoid online holiday scams with these tips
With online shopping and virtual giving at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported $173 million in losses due to credit card fraud and $337 million in losses from non-payment and non-delivery scams.
The FBI has a few tips to help ensure your online safety for the holiday season:
Beware of cybersecurity issues
When it comes to online shopping, being careful with any links, pop-ups, emails or advertisements on social media. Email scams or phishing scams are just a click away; usually, they ask you to click the link, update a password, or provide personal information.
If you get an unusual email from what seems like a company you recognize, be sure to look at the email address and phone number it’s from. These scam attempts often have similar-looking web addresses. If the message says you need to update your account, ignore the link in the message and go straight to your actual account. You’ll probably discover there’s no real issue with your account.
Do a little research on where you’re buying from
Sometimes a cute outfit or present will pop up in an advertisement. While it’s tempting to click the picture to be transferred to that website, it’s best to jot down the company name and do a quick search first. Verify reviews from other shoppers or check them out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Mind your wallet
With more and more companies accepting payment via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other virtual wallets, consumers should pay closer attention to how the seller asks for payment at the time of checkout. Scammers will sometimes ask for what amounts to a second payment method — often in the form of a transfer.
Be sure to keep an eye on your statements for little charges that might seem strange. Sometimes scam charges show up in smaller amounts made over a longer period of time in hopes that you won’t notice — this is sometimes called a penny scam.
Earlier this year, the BBB and the FCC began receiving complaints about delivery notification scams coming in the form of phone calls and text messages. Scammers imitated logos from DHL, FedEx, USPS and UPS in text messages asking people to confirm shipping information for an “incoming package.” Once the link was clicked, the scammers would install malware on the phone.
Be sure to review the seller’s shipping information. Always get an order number after your purchase and keep an eye on your email for a tracking number. Once a tracking number is provided double check to make sure your address is on the receiving end of the shipment.