coronavirus pandemic

Black Friday and Small Businesses: How Will the Two Fare in COVID -19?

Some businesses have benefited while others struggle, but what makes the difference?

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Historically, Black Friday is the time for steals and deals and it's the kickoff of the holiday shopping season. But in the era of COVID-19, how are businesses faring and what do they expect moving forward?

In Manchester, Wayne Bray is the co-owner of Bray Jewelers. He runs the business with his brother and said he’s seen a steady traffic flow throughout the day and that the shop has even profited in the midst of the pandemic.

"We have been a beneficiary which is good and bad. It’s good for us. But I feel for hospitality workers, the travel industry, I think we are receiving those dollars that people would have normally spent. They need something to feel good about and I think jewelry is one of those items," said Bray.

But it doesn’t mean that COVID hasn’t been a concern, as the business has been in the family for over a century being passed down from generation to generation.

"It was the first time I had ever been out of work," said Bray.

He refers to his time being closed during the mandatory shut down saying, "you're used to getting up every day and going to work and there’s nowhere to go."

But not all small businesses have benefited from people staying put at home. Co-owner of Westown Pharmacy, a business that has been in the Manchester community for over seven decades, Kamal Swami, details the impact of COVID and some of the changes that had to be made.

"Less and less number of people are coming into the store," said Swami. "We're doing more deliveries before the pandemic. We’re also offering curbside pick-up and we’re trying to synchronize the prescriptions to get all the prescriptions at one point so that the patient doesn’t have to make multiple trips."

But with the support of faithful customers and the holiday season in full swing, Swami believes the future of the pharmacy will be merry and bright.

"The neighborhood always supported us and they keep coming. I’m hoping by Christmas we can do a little better. So we’re planning different things to compensate for what we lost," said Swami.

Tim Phelan is the president of the Connecticut Retail Merchant Association and he shares what businesses should expect this holiday season.

"I think you are going to see a mix of sales, you are going to see indoor sales not where they were last year but online sales, curbside pick-up, pick-up in-store all going to be up higher than they were last year," said Phelan.

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