The year is drawing to a close and local residents who hope for on-time deliveries are running out of time.
The pandemic-induced supply chain confusion has created unprecedented shortages of all types of products, from the chips used in gaming consoles to more mundane items like ties and pajamas.
On Cyber Monday – the biggest online shopping day of the year – the prevalence of out of stock messages rose 8% compared to the previous week, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index. From November 1st to November 29th, the number of messages out of stock almost doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2020 and increased 258% from November 2019, according to Adobe.
Much is at stake for traders. According to the National Retail Federation, the country’s largest retail group, Christmas sales are expected to increase between 8.5% and 10.5% in the November to December period compared to the same period last year.
Many industry analysts believe the supply chain problems will not be resolved until next year.
However, Santa Monica has a secret weapon in the fight for gifts that are guaranteed to be on time: local shopping.
“If you’re looking for last-minute ideas, there are all of these great things in town,” said Jennifer Taylor, director of economic development. “Our stores have gifts in stock, and given the general supply shortage, they will have items on shelves that you can put under the tree.”
Buy Local also offers a clearinghouse for local gift ideas through its website and social media channels.
Businesses can submit items for the Buy Local Holiday Gift Guide through their website or by tagging Buylocal SM on social media. Residents can search the guide (http://www.buylocalsantamonica.com/tistheseason21) or search for posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter under BuylocalSM.
While local stores may not have a particular item on the shelf, there is no guarantee that online retailers will have it in a warehouse or that it will arrive on time, and that could be a boon to physical stores. Experts say the pandemic trained shoppers to try new brands and items when their first choice couldn’t be found. For example, when consumer product manufacturers and major retailers saw a huge rush for toilet paper in the spring of 2020, it forced buyers to abandon the brands they had stayed loyal to and look for alternatives.
Local shopkeepers hope that the goods and services available can meet pent-up needs in a way that will bring more long-term business to the local economy.
The economic benefits of spending in local stores are well known. About 70 cents of every dollar spent in Santa Monica stays here. This money will be used to keep essential services running, including local parks and libraries, while funding local teachers and school counselors.
However, councilor and small business owner Lana Negrete said that helping small businesses is actually about supporting local culture as it is the entrepreneurs who personify the city’s culture.
“I feel like these companies either tell a story of our past because they were here and are old companies, or they also tell where we are going because there are lots of new pop-up small businesses that are nice to us say who we are as a culture in Santa Monica, ”she said.
She said the economic transaction is only part of the reason residents benefit from local businesses as the businesses are where community is built, especially in our current cultural era when personal relationship building is rare and personal contact with people is almost a novelty.
“I think brick and mortar shopping is actually becoming more attractive because you can touch and feel the items again to experience what you are buying in advance,” she said. “And you come into contact with people, and I think we long for it, now that we’ve had to be away for people for so long.”
These moments can have profound effects on individuals who feel a sense of connectedness with their community through the interaction.
“When they leave, it’s not just the transaction, they had a conversation,” she said. “You got to know the person who works a little better. And they feel really good about spending their money locally because they approach people in the store in a different way. You are very connected to the people who work here and live in Santa Monica. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.