Knoxville business owners hope holiday shoppers overcome inflation, supply chain issues

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) –– Folks at Southern Grace Mercantile spent months preparing for the holidays. In fact, owner Charlene Saunders says the business earns up to half the year’s total profit in the last quarter.

However, it’s being short-changed this year due to inflation.

“All of our wood products we make and our cost of wood products has tripled,” Saunders said. “Some of it has even quadrupled. We’ve tried to keep our prices close to what they’ve always been, so it’s impacting our bottom line.”

Newly-released numbers show consumer prices jumped 6.8% during November, the most inflation we’ve experienced in 39 years.

And Saunders says they’re seeing fewer customers this year –– something she credits to the rise in online shopping and rising prices.

“When you’ve got to pay, you know, six percent, ten percent more for your groceries, you’re not going to have the extra income to spend on Christmas items, or gifts, or that little extra shirt you want,” Saunders said.

On top of inflation, small business owners are also dealing with a finite amount of inventory because of ongoing supply chain issues.

“Anything I had to preorder that came in September, that was all we could get,” Saunders said. “Usually you can reorder and get more product in and we could not.”

The challenges, she noted, have made this year more difficult for her business than 2020; however, she is still hopeful more people will shop local over the next couple weeks.

Southern Grace Mercantile on Oak Ridge Highway in Solway is hosting a “Holiday Shopping Palooza” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Saunders is hoping for a big turnout, despite the growing number of people shopping online.