Some Bay Area small businesses opting out of Cyber Monday sales due to pandemic financial woes

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A number of independently-owned Bay Area businesses that have been struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic are opting out of the ubiquitous Cyber Monday online shopping event.

While this Cyber Monday is predicted to be the largest in history, with nearly $13 billion in online shopping sales, the overhead costs of maintaining a web inventory are proving to be too much for some retailers this year.

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Plants and Friends has two locations in San Francisco: one which opened in Hayes Valley in October of 2017, and another in Pacific Heights which opened its doors just 4 months before the pandemic began.

For the company, Small Business Saturday has traditionally been their busiest day of the year.

In 2020, sales were up 50% compared to a regular Saturday during the pandemic.

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While the business does have an online store, Plants and Friends operations manager Harmony Corelitz says they're choosing not to participate in Cyber Monday deals and discounts.

"Online sales are more expensive for the retailer," Corelitz explains. "In term of processing fees, selling online has so much more overhead than having an in-person model."



"In addition to having your brick-and-mortar space and staff to process all the orders, there's the extra time answering all those emails and make those extra connections," the manager adds, "the web hosting fees the extra processing fees for delivery orders."

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Corelitz says staff has to work extra overtime hours on top of their in-store hours to keep up with online sales. She adds that given selling plants is a service requiring customer connection, it's harder to do virtually.

"We are in the business of hospitality for creating a service and a connection and relationship that's just to akin to human interaction and living interaction, so to translate that to the online world is a big shift," Corelitz adds. "The actual customer service aspect of it, the extra time and the technology is such a huge shift for small businesses in our community."

You can learn more about Plants and Friends by visiting their website here.

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