As business owners continued to struggle with inflation in 2023, businesses increased collaboration with each other and saw a return to pre-pandemic levels of foot traffic.
Stephanie Cobert, the director of marketing for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said Chapel Hill was able to bring in new audiences to local businesses through events like the Chelsea-Wrexham soccer game.
“Coming together as a community, whether it's to bring these fun experiences to downtown or whether it's to help support one another, has really been a bright spot in downtown this year,” Cobert said.
Schoolkids Records owner Stephen Judge said his business has seen its best gross sales in two decades in the last few years, but that this success has decreased because inflation has caused people to focus their income on necessities like groceries and gas.
He also said his business is no longer facing the supply chain issues that many businesses struggled with coming out of the pandemic. However due to inflation, he said the problem now is not being able to get the records, but affording the cost of them.
“I think that it's just really starting to affect people, and people just don't have the money to spend and we know that — and it's not even just that people don't have extra money to spend, inflation's hit us as well,” he said.
Chrystina Passanisi, the owner of Sofia's Boutique in Carrboro, said the biggest challenge her business faced this year was staffing, because of a shift in people’s ideas about work during and after the pandemic. Employees did not want to simply have a job anymore, but rather wanted to express themselves and connect to something meaningful, she said.
Passanisi said business is generally going well in the community because people are back to life, traveling and celebrating special events.
“I think that’s probably the biggest impact that I’ve noticed — is that people are happy," she said. "They are engaged in life and that results in business.”