Holiday gift-givers want their money to matter

Customer Tamara Jenkins, owner of one-on-a-kind hats, tries on a hat with Mibka Robinson Davis, as does Davis’ daughter, Churstiana Davis, on November 24, 2020, at a store in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California She sees .

Patrick T. Fallen | AFP | Getty Images

Holiday shoppers are not only asking for low prices and unique gifts. Many want their money to matter.

The coronavirus epidemic this year has affected small businesses and the killing of George Floyd has shed a harsh light on racial disparities. Results: Nearly 60% of consumers said they were likely to shop at neighborhood stores and local retailers to contribute to the local economy this holiday season, according to a survey of more than 1,500 American consumers by Accenture at the end of August Or highly likely. in September. About the same percentage said that they are more likely or more likely to buy locally d products this year.

Consumers said they wanted to support companies that also reflected their values. About 4 to 10 respondents said they plan to shop in minority-owned businesses, and the same number said they would shop with retailers who support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“People really, really, really work very hard for the money that they make and when they give it to a company, they want to make sure that the company is really going to work, really It is hard to create the kind of world they want to live in. “, Said Aurora James, founder of 15 Percent Pledge. “When you spend a dollar somewhere, you’re voting to keep that thing in place – especially in this world of epidemics, we don’t exist in so many companies where you’re spending now . It matters. “

Major retailers have indicated supporting small businesses and moving more and more of their products. Lowe has given millions of dollars to small and minority-led businesses and kicked off a pitching competition to identify standout entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds. Massey and Williams Sonoma-owned West Elm has pledged at least 15% of its shelf space for products from Black-owned businesses. And Nordstrom has recently added black-established brands, such as Baby Trace and Bombay Curl, to its beauty department

Other companies donate to social causes. Sustainable sneakers start-up Allbirds, for example, raised prices by $ 1 on Black Friday to donate to a climate fund set up by activist Greta Thunberg. It will match all purchases with another $ 1.

“This period of the year is synonymous with mass consumption and throwing culture,” Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown told CNBC in an interview. “We are trying to make a statement that it can be done differently.”

Kendra Scott, a jewelry brand sold by major retailers such as Neem Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, started a line of bracelets for good causes. Half of the income supports Feeding America, which feeds children who are not getting food in school during the epidemic.

Next year, Lowe plans to have more than 400 products from entrepreneurs in his stores or on his website. The home improvement retailer has donated $ 30 million for minority-owned businesses and $ 25 million for small business grants in rural communities. Struggling businesses include plumbers, electricians, and other home professionals who buy supplies at home improvement retailers, but lose business during the epidemic.

One of a handful of black CEOs in the Fortune 500, is a home improvement retailer led by Marvin Ellison. In an interview with CNBC in May, he said he was amazed by the flood of grant applications the company received.

Jeweler Center Scott is donating half of its Everline bracelet proceeds to Feeding America.

Kendra Scott

Racial equity as ‘really good business’

James, the founder of 15 Cent Pledge and a Brooklyn-based entrepreneur, said the epidemic has increased consumers’ desire to “shop small” – whether they visit a mom-and-pop store or from a local founder of a product. make a discovery. At a major retailer.

“We want to give gifts that make people feel good on both sides of it,” she said. “If I’m at the checkout counter, I would love to be able to give a gift that’s going to not only the person I’m giving it to, but also the small business I’m buying it from.”

The 36-year-old entrepreneur wrote an Instagram post, which went viral following George Floyd’s protests, calling on companies to at least look for products from Black-owned businesses to reflect the makeup of America’s population Build 15% of the shelves. .

Nine companies, including well-known brands such as Macy’s, Sepora and Rent the Runway, have signed 15 percent pledges.

Arora James

Photo: Grace Miller

James said she pushed large companies for help because she was troubled by the epidemic toll on Black-owned businesses. According to a University of California, Santa Cruz study, approximately 41% of black-owned businesses closed nationwide between February and April. During the same period, only 17% of white businesses closed, the study found.

He said that if they can keep their doors open, consumers’ support of small businesses can schedule this holiday. “Walmart doesn’t really need your support this holiday season, but small black-owned businesses across America really do.”

Some shopkeepers will make Saturday a day known as Small Business on Saturday. The shopping event, created a decade ago by American Express, encourages shoppers to spend money in their communities.

When large companies gain weight for social reasons, James said, they usually see an advantage for their bottom line, because they are resonated by those consumers.

“Corporate America turns a blind eye to some of these things,” she said. “But I’ve always known that being equal, being sustainable, are things that are not just for doing the right thing, but they are really very important businesses.”

She said she knew that a major retailer could make first-hand. About seven years ago, Nordstrom showcased a collection of brothers Velis, the luxury brand he founded to shoes and handbags from artisans around the world. The company gave him the main real estate: seven window displays in cities across the country.

“It was a big deal for me,” he said. “It absolutely changed my business.”

– of CNBC Lauren Thomas Contributed to this report.

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