December 11, 2020: Panic Week 2020—Shoppers and Business Prepare for Last-Minute Gift Buying

Gusto Editors

December 11, 2020

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Panic Week 2020

The week before Christmas is a mad scramble for many Americans doing their last-minute gift shopping—and for some retailers, it’s the biggest sales week of the year. This holiday season, according to a recent Womply report, “panic week” may make or break five retail categories in particular:

  • Jewelry stores
  • Music, video, and DVD shops
  • Shoe stores
  • Games and toy shops
  • Gift and novelty shops

These five types of retailers saw the biggest spikes in panic week sales in 2019—and they’ve also been harder hit by the pandemic in comparison to other retail categories.

Image credit: Womply

This year, retailers also face new challenges presented by safety restrictions and customer concerns:

Unfortunately, retail shop owners are going to have to work extra hard this year to make their customers feel comfortable as the pandemic remains deadly serious and some places have increased restrictions and/or lockdowns on retailers. 

For these reasons and more, it’s vital to shop small this holiday season.

Read Womply’s full report here.

2020 tax changes: SUTA and Form W-4

It’s been an atypical year, and that’s likely going to result in an atypical upcoming tax season. There are several changes small business owners should be aware of (and that we plan to cover in more detail in the coming weeks), but here are just a couple to start:

State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA) tax rates

Due to the pandemic and its impact on businesses, certain states have decided that any company that has terminated employees due to circumstances related to the virus will NOT see a SUTA tax rate increase. Check our state-by-state guide to see if your SUTA tax rate is changing this year.

New Form W-4

For many of us, correctly calculating withholdings is high up on our list of perpetual head-scratchers—right next to parallel universes and grammar rules regarding i’s and e’s. Luckily, the IRS has made some changes to the form to make withholdings easier and more accurate. For the latest on updating withholdings, follow our 2021 W-4 guide.

Headlines from the week

  • States step up for small businesses as federal aid flounders (New York Times)
  • 40% of Americans plan to spend less this holiday season (CNBC)
  • Inc.’s new Best in Business Awards recognize companies that made a positive impact in a trying year (Inc.)
  • Nearly 1 million Californians may need to repay part of their pandemic benefits (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Indoor dining in New York City will be barred starting Monday (New York Times)

Watch list: Forecasting and planning for 2021

For many business owners, 2021 looks like a black box. With so much uncertainty, how do you make decisions about taking loans or grants? How do you know when you need to hire or fire people? The answer: You get really good at cash flow forecasting.

Join us next week for our webinar, “How to Forecast and Plan for a Successful 2021.” Small business consultant Andi Smiles will share how to:

  • Use Gusto’s free tool to build your own 18-month forecast.
  • Plan for revenue and staffing changes.
  • Pivot your business in response to limitless scenarios.
  • Set and achieve your 2021 goals.

Catch the webinar on December 17 with our partners at the U.S. Black Chambers (USBC), or on December 18 with IFundWomen.

Top relief options for the week

  • Sacramento, California has 400 outdoor heaters available for small businesses on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Sandy Springs, Georgia opened applications on December 9 for up to $15,000 grants for small businesses with less than 99 employees. The total fund amounts to $1.2 million.
  • City of Belvidere, Illinois was awarded $350,000 from the Illinois’ CUREs Act to distribute to small businesses. Grants are available for up to $25,000 per business.
  • Florida Power & Light (FPL) is offering 10% energy credits to small businesses affected by COVID-19. The benefit will start in January and run through 2021.
  • See more relief options in our Small Business Relief Finder.

Want more small business news and resources? Check out past editions in our archive.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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