WACO, TX — Despite the pandemic, the National Retail Federation expects holiday sales during the months of November and December to be larger than in 2019. According to the NRF's holiday shopping forecast for 2020 This year the National Retail Federation is expecting between a 3-6 percent increase in holiday shopping sales, compared to 2019.
“Consumers have shown they are excited about the holidays and are willing to spend on gifts that lift the spirits of family and friends after such a challenging year," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "We expect a strong finish to the holiday season, and will continue to work with municipal and state officials to keep retailers open and the economy moving forward at this critical time.”
But while more consumers are likely to head online to take advantage of online deals for their holiday shopping, so will scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
"Mostly it's purchasing an item and not receiving it." Amy Rasor, the Regional Director for the Heart of Texas Region - Better Business Bureau said. "Hot items that is, you know, very popular. There's always one each year.
One of those hot ticket items for 2020, is the Playstation Five. This year, the BBB has warned consumers about scams related to purchasing game consoles from scammers on fraudulent websites.
"A lot of times the price is great, these sites say it's in stock when you don't see it in stock in other places," Rasor said. "These are red flags."
Rasor said it's important consumers shop from websites they trust and remember that if a price looks too good to be true, it most likely is. To make sure you don't fall victim to a scammer this holiday season, the BBB has some tips on what steps consumers should take.
- Shop with trustworth sellers on secure sites. Check their BBB Business Profile on BBB.org. Secure web addresses begin with HTTPS:// and not just HTTP://.
- Use your credit card. You can contest fraudulent charges through your credit card company.
- Price check before you buy. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls or letters. These messages may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that they need your personal information.
And perhaps, one of the best ways to avoid falling victim to an online scam this holiday season is to shop locally. With more of today's retail shopping taking place online, many small businesses have been forced to increase their online operations. Leah McHorse is just one of the many small business owners in downtown Temple, hoping this year's holiday shoppers will provide a boost to her business this holiday season.
"When the pandemic started I took 2 days off and sat at home and cried," McHorse said.
Leah said been facing an uphill battle with her business, Darling Decor & More, and has to adapt in order to survive the current economic climate.
"I could either file for bankruptcy or get up and go to work, and I did," McHorse said. And I did a big shift to selling things online."
She said she's done what she can to transition some things online. but hopes shoppers consider coming to her store and others in the community.
"We've done a lot to make sure it's safe," she said.
You don't have to look far off main street to find businesses in Central Texas communities, with high hopes for the holiday season. Athena Cobo opened up her small business earlier this year, ahead of the pandemic, and has had to increase some of her online operations as well.
"We had to alter how we sold we did a lot on Facebook and had mini auctions," Cobo said. "We also did a lot to make sure we're safe for our consumers, like curbside pick up."
For her, ahead of Small Business Saturday, she said she hopes she'll more shoppers head to her store.
"One person makes our day a few customers makes our whole weekend," Covo said.
If you encounter a business or offer that you think is a potentially illegal scheme, you're encouraged to report it to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker. You can view a full list of tips for shopping safely this holiday season, from the Better Business Bureau - Heart of Texas Region, here. For more information on independently owned businesses in downtown Temple, visit here.