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Covid and Inflation Concerns Linger

by Erica Kirkland

Woman stands proudly at the counter of her candle store

Heading into the first half of 2022, 52% of independent gift retailers plan to pursue a “very aggressive” or “somewhat aggressive” purchasing plan. However, uncertainty over the impact of Omicron and how long it will hang around, the increased costs of doing business and rising inflation is causing many to be conservative in their purchasing plans.

“There are so many things that our country is facing such as the ongoing pandemic,” says a Wisconsin retailer. “It feels like someone keeps shaking the snow globe. It is very unsettling.”

“I’m not willing to over-buy as Omicron is rearing its ugly head and who knows

how long it will remain in play,” says a New Hampshire store owner. “We will be strong on fill-ins and reorders but will wait for a consensus from staff and customers before jumping into a new line with both feet.”

Young male candle store owner counts his inventory and turns to smile at the camera.

“Going into year three of hearing ‘Two weeks to flatten the curve’ makes me want to be conservative,” quips a Michigan store owner while another retailer from Wisconsin reports, “With Covid 19 surging in our area, we don’t know what is coming and if people will still be shopping in person as much.”

The rising costs of doing business is also a major cause for concern among independent gift store owners.

“Inflation is eating into customers’ disposable incomes,” says New Hampshire store owner. “And a lot of merchandise carried by gift stores is not a necessity.”

Young independent store owner stands in the doorway of her store, looking out at the street.

“Vendors are already increasing prices significantly, and by the end of the year I’m afraid consumers won’t have the discretionary funds to spend in stores like mine,” says a Minnesota retailer, while a Mississippi store owner says, “With inflation like it is . . . I’m preparing for the bottom to fall out.”

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