Local Stores Adjusting as National Sales Decline

NBC Universal, Inc.

On March 17, the doors of both the Idiom and Dwell stores in downtown New Haven closed.

It was a tough decision for business owner Kimberly Pedrick.

“Just at that point it felt like the right thing to do,” said Pedrick.

Uncertainty has surrounded large and small stores for the last month. Many are trying to find new ways to keep in touch with customers.

“Videos is not something I did do in the past, but that is something that I have implemented,” said Pedrick.

With national retail numbers plunging 8.7 percent in March, experts say business owners are turning to online sales and social media to drive business. But there’s an underlying fear among many owners.

“Many of these smaller independent retailers are anxious about the ability to remain in business while they’re going through this,” said Tim Phelan, president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association.  

He adds many owners are filing for help with the Small Business Association and through the federal stimulus package. Some say it’s a very difficult time.

“The time between now and when we reopen is obviously a little unsettling for some of our members,” said Phelan.

The owner of Ragg’s for Men and Women told NBC Connecticut they are offering online discounts like many stores, but it would take a lot of investment to revise the website for an online shopping focus.  It’s another challenge many businesses face.

“They’ve had to get a little more creative with online sales and try to be innovative in ways to meet their customer’s demands,” said Phelan.

It’s the new way Pedrick says she’s thinking about business: showing up in customers’ news feeds instead of at the store.

“Something they can look at and hopefully smile and know that we’re still there, and we’re all in this together.”

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