Retail sales were relatively unchanged from June to July, according to monthly data from the Census Bureau, suggesting that consumers continued to buy while gasoline prices fell. But how well does the overall figure match what companies are experiencing on the ground?
“Marketplace” spoke to three small businesses across the country to get some insight into the state of the retail economy. A trend: Supply chain issues remain a barrier as demand grows.
To listen to each person’s story, use the media player above.
Eric Vaughn, owner of Eric I was framed in Detroit
“It’s been so busy we’ve had to switch to date-only,” said Eric Vaughn, owner of Eric’s I’ve Been Frame in Detroit. “Our supply chain was very difficult. I had a job for a quilt, and the quilt was really huge. We were going to frame it, and we couldn’t find Plexiglas big enough. We discussed it with the artist, and the artist decided that she would cut the quilt without compromising the integrity of the quilt, and we were able to acquire a Plexiglas.
Diane Jenks, bike repairer at HubBub Bikes in Kirtland, Ohio
“Some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue,” said Diane Jenks, who is a bike fitter at her husband’s custom bike business, HubBub Bicycles in Kirtland, Ohio, as well as the host of “Outspoken cyclist” podcast. “If the parts are available, business is good,” Jenks said. “If you’re told parts are six months to a year away, business can be very scary right now.”
Irène Kesselman, owner of Ali Cat Toys in Carrboro, North Carolina
For Irene Kesselman, owner of Ali Cat Toys in Carrboro, North Carolina, the end of summer means preparations for the holiday shopping season are well underway. But she still finds some products hard to find. “We ordered some nice wrapping paper, and we’re trying to get a ribbon to match the paper, and we have a time and a half trying to get some ribbon shipped to us,” Kesselman said. “We are a little behind on making bows. We actually start making bows in July, so in that case I don’t feel prepared, but as far as merchandise goes, I feel prepared.
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