Shoppers enjoy the atmosphere in person in downtown Birmingham last week.

Shoppers enjoy the atmosphere in person in downtown Birmingham last week.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Local businesses experience the seasonal rush of last-minute shoppers

By: Mary Genson | Metro | Published December 19, 2022


METRO DETROIT — Holly Anselmi, the owner of The Italian Dish in Birmingham, has worked hard to make in-person shopping a full sensory experience.

The satisfying smell and taste of complimentary espresso enhance the experience as customers’ eyes are drawn to the Italian and European ceramics on display. This time of year, they also play Christmas music as shoppers browse.

“We do our best to make it a very positive, happy experience, and I don’t think you get that sitting at your laptop with the kids screaming in the background or the TV blaring or your work right in front of you,” Anselmi said. “I think that it’s important to get out and have that experience by shopping locally.”

As the holidays approach, local businesses often see an increase of in-person shopping as people run out of time to order on the internet.

According to new research from customer engagement specialist Emarsys, more than half of U.S. consumers prefer to shop in-store than anywhere else.

Aside from the benefit of being able to pick something up without having to wait for it to be shipped and delivered, local business owners have observed and identified some of the other benefits in-person shoppers have this time of year.

Anselmi said this time of year is when they do the most business.

“People are definitely looking to check things off of their Christmas list and get something unique, even though they waited till the last minute, so that is what we are here for,” Anselmi said.

Andy Kramar, from Kramar Jewelry in Royal Oak, said in-person shopping helps people know exactly what they are getting.

“The main thing is, online, you can’t visualize the size of something,” Kramar said. “So if you want to buy diamond stud earrings, and let’s say the price range is a half carat, looking on your cellphone or looking online, you might have no idea what it really looks like.”

Last-minute shoppers might also be relieved by some places’ service of wrapping presents. The Italian Dish is one of the spots where shoppers can ask to have their purchase wrapped.

“I think what’s most important is to know exactly what you’re buying and to have a pleasant experience as you shop,” Anselmi said.

In-person shoppers also get the perk of getting in-person customer service.

Anselmi said customers can ask workers about the product and maybe even hear the story behind it, making the gift even more unique.

At Kramar Jewelers, Kramar said they help guide customers on what their options are based on their budget.

Anselmi emphasized what she thinks is the most important benefit of shopping in person at local shops: supporting the community versus shopping at Amazon or other big box stores. She said customers should take some pride and feel even better about their purchases, since they are getting something they love, as well as supporting the local community.