Bay Area small businesses struggling through pandemic plead with customers to shop early

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you're traditionally a last-minute holiday shopper, small businesses have a plea this year -- come early.

With limited capacity and inventory, they can't afford the holiday rush.

RELATED: Here's how you can help San Francisco recover this holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Inside JoeyRae boutique in San Carlos, only five customers are allowed in the store at a time.

At Gump's in downtown San Francisco, ten customers.

"We're just encouraging everyone to shop early this year because of social distancing protocol, it's not going to be your normal holiday season," said Allie Board, who owns JoeyRae with her mom and sister.

"Being a San Francisco icon for well over 150 years, we survive because of our local support from our customers based here in San Francisco and across the country," said Marc Capalbo, VP of Retail at Gump's.

Steffen Schebesta, CEO at Sendinblue, a digital marketing company says the holiday season is a perfect time for businesses to take advantage of opportunities in a crisis.

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Consumers concerned about getting their gifts under the tree in time -- and on budget -- should keep in mind these tips from Consumer Reports.

"For one, local stores can personalize their shopping experiences. Go digital if you haven't already. Share some stories on social media about your customers that you have. Have a small contest maybe. Make them aware that you're struggling, talk to them on a regular basis. You can really transform your business in days," he said.

A new American Express poll shows that 75% of customers plan to shop local for the holidays to support small businesses through the pandemic.

From online stores, to private shopping to fast deliveries -- small businesses are trying to go above and beyond.

JoeyRae even does FaceTime consultations for their customers. Gump's offers a private shopping experience. Their only reminder this year -- shop early because their suppliers are also struggling.

RELATED: Survey shows good, bad news for San Francisco's holiday shopping season

"There's going to shortages of merchandise, we're already seeing it," said Board.

"In order to make sure that perfect present gets to the person on time, we definitely suggest that you shop as soon as," said Capalbo.

Small Business Saturday this year is on Nov. 28.
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