LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Retailers across Greater Lafayette were busy Thursday catering to last-minute Christmas shoppers.
Lore Gibson, of Lafayette, was greeted with a picturesque atmosphere when she visited Main Street Books on Thursday for last-minute Christmas shopping.
"I wasn't expecting snow, this much snow today, and it is, it's beautiful: the lights on the trees, the atmosphere and it's not rushed, and you don't feel crammed in and nobody's trying to sell you anything. You can just look and get what you want."
That's attracted customers to downtown Lafayette for a successful holiday shopping season, which is crucial as small business struggle amid the pandemic, says David Watkins, co-owner of Two Tulips Boutique.
"We always have our loyal customers who come no matter what but we've seen so many new faces this year that we had never seen before," he says. "We've been here for 20 years and there's some people that never even knew we were here but they're just starting to come downtown. Downtown has grown so much, it's so great, so we're happy to have them all down."
Christmas is always one of the most lucrative times of the year for small businesses. But the increase in sales hasn't compensated for the economic damage of the pandemic, says Paula Davis, owner of Blooms and Petals Flowers and Events.
"I am grateful that we are still here as a business and that our community is mindful of us and try to remember us and flower arrangements, but it's definitely been impacted," she says.
Gibson says downtown shopping offers a unique experience she can't find anywhere else.
"I love to shop local and there's all kinds of things in there that you wouldn't find in other places and you don't know what you're going to find everytime, so I like the element of surprise," she says.
The National Retail Federation reports holiday shoppers make 23 percent of their purchases at small businesses, compared to 60 percent online and 45 percent at department stores.
"It's very important to support small business," Gibson says. "They're in our community and when they thrive, we all thrive."