ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) --- With just eleven days between us and the start of the biggest shopping season of the year, local businesses are recovering from the loss of some major retailers in the area.
"When a large anchor closes, no matter where it's at, in the world of retail, inevitably those retail businesses that are tied to the larger anchor will feel that pain as well," said Nathan Bryant, president and CEO of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council.
With the holiday shopping season less than two weeks away, businesses both large and small are eagerly preparing for what looks to be the most lucrative year yet. Locally, Rockford is facing its first Christmas without some key big box retailers in the area, like Bergner’s, Kmart and Toys-R-Us.
While this has caused a gap in commerce, RAEDC President Nathan Bryant says the community has been able to bank on that shift because of the experience it can offer the shopper.
“Folks are shopping a lot more online, whether we like that or not, but when they do come out to shop, when they decide to come away from their computer, they're looking for a shopping experience, something that's different, something that's quaint, something that's small, that they can't otherwise get when they're sitting at their computer," said Bryant.
By taking advantage of nationwide platforms, like Small Business Saturday on November 24th, Bryant says communities like Rockford can use the lack of a major retailer in the area to band together and flourish.
"The face of retail has changed and it's important for us to understand the cause and effect of that change as our community grapples with moving forward," said Bryant.