The Coast News Group
Carlsbad holiday shopping numbers have improved since last year.
According to local business groups, there was a significant increase of holiday shoppers in the Village this year. Courtesy photo

Carlsbad sees increase in holiday retail shopping

CARLSBAD — The holiday shopping season came back in force this year.

Supply chain issues and shoppers spending their dollars with local merchants were two of the biggest factors in the city’s improved holiday shopping season, according to Christine Davis, executive director of the Carlsbad Village Association.

While the official numbers are still outstanding for the City of Carlsbad, Davis said it appears the economic output has reached 2019 levels. Last year, merchants and small businesses were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year Davis said locals rallied around local businesses.

“This holiday season was meeting the same as 2019,” she said. “That was very promising. I’m hoping that the 2021 shopping season helped heal some of the wounds from 2020. This is a good start.”

Davis said there was a noticeable increase in traffic in the Village from Small Business Saturday through the end of the season. She said the small business message from the CVA, chamber and city are sticking with residents and even tourists.

Davis said the competition with online platforms likely dropped as guidelines have relaxed. Last year, health officials and elected leaders encouraged more online shopping and avoiding crowded areas indoors due to the pandemic.

This year, though, the supply chain issues drove down confidence with shoppers as their orders may, or would be, delayed. To mitigate those concerns, shoppers turned to local merchants, Davis said.

Another hit was the Gift Carlsbad program funded by the city and the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. The program pushes the sale of gift cards to local businesses with added cash bonuses for each level of card. Davis said the program will continue until the funding runs dry.

“I do know the Gift Carlsbad program did make an impact,” she added. “We started the Gift Carlsbad program in mid-November so it would have teeth by Small Business Saturday.”

Song Bledsoe and his wife, owners of Studio 12-20, a women’s boutique clothing store with locations in Carlsbad, Coronado and Texas, told ABC 10 News sales increased nearly 30% compared to 2020. He said they survived 2020 through PPP and other disaster relief loans, but now shoppers are flocking to local retailers.

The National Retail Federation estimated holiday shopping could increase by as much as 11.5% this year. The holiday season runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.