Return of holiday events boosts small businesses

Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 12:06 AM EST
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Holiday events are back this year across our area after COVID-19 put a pause on many holiday events last year.

The Stuart Christmas Parade Friday night was a revived tradition for many Martin County and Stuart families.

Christmas parade.PNG
Christmas parade.PNG

Nearby businesses also looked forward to the return of holiday events that bring out large crowds, and potential customers.

According to the National Retail Federation, the number of Americans who shopped over the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend was down to 180 million in 2021 from 186 million in 2020.

The amount of money shoppers spent over the long Thanksgiving weekend was also down to $301.27 in 2021 from $311.75 in 2020 and $361.90 in 2019.

But downtown Stuart store owners are not all-seeing that impact.

"People are so happy, they're pleasant, the vibe is back. It's Christmas time so everyone is pleasant and excited," said GypSea Cottage owner Kristen Couperus.

GypSea Cottage owner Kristen Couperus
GypSea Cottage owner Kristen Couperus

Couperus opened her downtown Stuart store during the pandemic in 2020, experiencing her first holiday season under uncertain times.

“We were a little bit lucky in Martin County because we had some leeway with the rules and restrictions, so we were open for business which was amazing,” Couperus said.

As a result, she said she was able to have a stable first year in business. This holiday season, however, she expects to get her first taste of what a typical season would be.

“People aren’t as afraid as they were. A little more consumer confidence for sure,” Couperus said.

With the return of holiday events in Stuart, she expects more steady crowds of customers. The Lyric Theatre is also resuming shows, which brings out more potential shoppers.

“We are fully stocked with events all month long,” Couperus said.

Vaccine availability also plays a role in the confidence for hosting holiday events.

In Martin County, the health department reports 66% of people over 5-years-old are vaccinated.

The weekly positivity rate in Martin County is 2.6%.

Scripps Only Content 2021