'Many will not survive:' Milwaukee businesses need you this winter

VISIT Milwaukee's "Season of Giving" campaign encourages local spending during the holiday season, something that's even more important as small businesses are hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“They need our help, and many will not survive this season if we do not support them,” said Claire Koenig with VISIT Milwaukee.

With empty stores and less business in Milwaukee, the winter months offer a slew of uncertainties for the hospitality industry. That's why VISIT Milwaukee's holiday campaign encourages spending at Milwaukee shops, hotels and restaurants during the holidays.

“It is like, a double whammy," said Koenig. "Yes, you’re giving someone something great, and you’re giving another day of business for a small business owner in our community." 

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The government said Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped last week to 853,000 — the most since September. The surge in jobless claims made clear that many companies are still shedding workers as states reimpose business shutdowns and consumers avoid shopping, traveling or dining out. Consumers thus far haven’t spent as much this holiday shopping season as they have in previous years, according to credit and debit card data, and last month U.S. employers added jobs at the slowest pace since April. Restaurants, bars and retailers all cut jobs in November.

Those at VISIT Milwaukee worry the number of businesses closing for good will grow this winter without local support. Meanwhile, business owners have tried to adapt, offering outdoor seating and curbside pickup.

Claire Koenig

“If you can afford to say, 'I’m not going to cook a Christmas dinner; I’m going to get it from a restaurant,' we want you to do so because it makes a huge difference in our community," said Koenig.

And not only are you supporting the local business, but also, the people that work there.

“There are still thousands of Milwaukeeans that are unemployed from the pandemic in hospitality, and even more will become so if their businesses are forced to close,” Koenig said.

While the Season of Giving campaign runs through the holidays, supporting local businesses year-round is critical. If you're looking for gift ideas or packages -- CLICK HERE.