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Holiday spending report holds mixed message for Virginia retailers

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 7:06 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Diane Speaks has plenty to offer a holiday shopper.

“Our tulip bags from Holland are our best seller,” she told a visitor Wednesday afternoon.

Her business, She’s International Boutique, is filled with unique handbags, clothing, and jewelry.

Speaks said her business is on the rebound.

“After last year, I’m so happy to see people out,” Speaks said in an interview. “And they have been very, very supportive, I’ll say, since August or September.”

Speaks’ experience is consistent with a new holiday shopping report from Roanoke College.

A survey of more than 600 Virginians indicated more than 60% plan to spend the same as, or more than, last year.

The downside for bricks and mortar retailers? The people who took part in the survey said they planned to spend 70% of their dollars online.

Alice Louise Kassens is the John S. Shannon Professor of Economics at Roanoke College and Senior Analyst at the school’s Institute for Policy and Opinion Research.

“Last year, I think we were in the middle of the pandemic. People didn’t want to go to stores this time last year for the most part,” Kassens said. “And so being close to where it was a year ago says something.”

Back at She’s International, shopper Rebecah Smith said she plans to support local businesses as much as possible.

“I know local businesses have been hit the hardest, so helping them come out of the situation of the pandemic, I would love to help them do that,” she said.

Diane Speaks said she’s confident that will happen.

“I do feel like people are coming out and trying to support businesses more,” Speaks said. “And I think that they are trying to take advantage of some sales and things that we have. And I’m real hopeful about everything.”

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