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WSU study: Shoppers want to return to stores

Jeffery Brendmoen stocks shelves at The General Store on Black Friday in Spokane.  (COLIN TIERNAN/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Jeffery Brendmoen stocks shelves at The General Store on Black Friday in Spokane. (COLIN TIERNAN/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Anthony Kuipers Moscow-Pullman </p><p>Daily News

The majority of Pacific Northwest shoppers support local businesses and are willing to shop in-store this holiday season, but have concerns about COVID-19 mandates and supply chain issues.

This is according to a Washington State University study recently released that surveyed more than 1,700 people in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

The annual study asks people about their shopping attitudes and plans for the coming holiday season.

Sixty-one percent of residents said they are likely to shop in-store if stores are open. Sixty-five percent said they feel safer doing this because more people are getting vaccinated. In 2020, only 54% said they felt safe in-store.

Most people said they feel more comfortable at stores when people are social distancing.

Support for masks varies across the region, and 42% of respondents do not want stricter policies such as requiring vaccines or negative tests for customers and employees.

Supply chain issues and labor shortages also factor into how people are planning for the holidays.

Supply chain issues are pushing people to shop in-store as they expect it to be harder to find what they want online. However, 53% agree the labor shortage many businesses are experiencing can make shopping at stores difficult.

Like last year’s survey, the majority of shoppers indicated they are not interested in Black Friday.

Pam Hays, owner of Hodgins Drug and Hobby in Moscow, said she knows better than to predict what will happen every holiday season.

“You prepare for the best and you expect whatever,” she said.

She said that so far her sales have been robust because concerns about the supply shortage have prompted people to do their shopping earlier than normal.

Hays said Hodgins ordered its toys early and often to ensure it had enough merchandise in stock.

Hays has also seen the same support for local businesses indicated in the WSU study.

She expressed gratitude toward the community for valuing Moscow businesses and said customers told her they want to support Hodgins so that it does not go away.

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