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Small Business Saturday Takes On Greater Importance With More Shops In Danger Of Closing This Holiday Season

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With so many businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, the holiday shopping season can be a make or break time.

While even a global pandemic couldn't stop shoppers from gorging on Black Friday deals this year, local shop owners are hoping there's spending money left for them on Small Business Saturday, CBS2's Christina Fan reported.

A projected 35% to 40% of holiday shopping sales will be online this year, partly because of the pandemic. More than 100,000 small businesses around the U.S. have been forced to close.

"Jeff Bezos doesn't need more of our money. Our friends and neighbors who are local, independent shop owners and retailers, they need our money this season more than ever," said Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation in Westfield, New Jersey.

Westfield is pulling out all the stops, including opening a new welcome center that offers free gift wrapping and even arranges free deliveries from local retailers during the holidays.

MORE: Small Businesses Say Holiday Shopping Season Could Determine If They Stay Open Or Close For Good: 'We Need Your Business 100%'

In Brooklyn's Marcy Square, neighborhood merchants and artists greeted customers at a socially distanced Small Business Saturday event with sales, songs and Santa.

"I'm looking for art, personal things, beauty," Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Angeli Rasbury said after getting her temperature checked.

Santa greeted children from behind a plastic sheet divider at a Small Business Saturday event in Brooklyn on Nov. 28, 2020. (Credit: CBS2)

Darius Daftary and Liz Giardina were there with their young son to see Santa, who was sitting safely behind a plastic sheet divider.

"I wish we could be closer to Santa. I would love for him to sit on the lap, not this year but hopefully next year," Daftary told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

Having Santa and Mrs. Claus behind plastic was different, but year after year, what's constant is Daftary and Giardina shop local.

"I think anyone who has the ability to do so should pay it forward," Daftary said. "Shop at the stores that are staffed by people that live next to you."

"We live in this neighborhood, we love this neighborhood, we do everything we can to support the neighborhood," Giardina said.

Watch Christina Fan's report -- 

City representatives were at the event, handing out masks and urging the public to "Shop Your City."

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a news conference Saturday at Manhattan's Strand bookstore, immediately followed by a personal buying spree.

"Every dollar you keep in the community keeps us alive," de Blasio said.

This week, the mayor announced a $35 million program providing interest-free loans to the owners of small businesses.

MORE: NYC Announces $35 Million In No-Interest Loans For Small Businesses, Encourages New Yorkers To Shop Local

Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the department of small business services, says more help is needed.

"We need that second stimulus to come and bring some life back to our communities, and they are the only ones who can do that right now," he said.

Gary Kirsch is manager of Delphinium Home in Hell's Kitchen.

"We reopened July 1 and it was a little dismal, but it's gotten better and better, and especially now, we're starting to see the activity," he said.

Gary Kirsch is manager of Delphinium Home in Hell's Kitchen. (Credit: CBS2)

He was welcoming back loyal regular customers.

"I don't want this to go away, so I'm here to spend some dollars and help them out," said Drew Reed, of Washington Heights.

Many small businesses do 70% to 80% of their annual sales in November and December.

One in five owners say they will have to shut down if economic conditions don't improve within six months.

Many small businesses owners have also launched online shops to provide customers with an option to shop from home.

Some cities and towns have also invested quite a bit of money into holiday decorations in the hopes of attracting more shoppers to downtown areas.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Harvey Epstein have introduced the Manhattan Mom-And-Pop Tax Relief Act. The proposal suspends the collection of commercial rent tax from small businesses with rents of less than $1 million per year.


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