A steady stream of visitors kept downtown Perry retailers busy on Thursday but that's not always a sure thing.

"A small business owner does chase an added challenge," said Darlene McLendon, president and CEO of the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce.

That challenge is competing with big box stores and online retailers and it's a tough battle. According to the consulting firm Deloitte, for the first time this year people will spend more on shopping online than in stores.

Jonathon Petrman said he does about half his shopping online because it's so easy.

"It's more convenient for a lot of the bigger purchases to order it online and wait two days and have it than try to find it somewhere around where I live," said Petrman.

McLendon said the threat to small businesses is real but emphasized that locally owned shops can still succeed.

"They're not buying on the mass scale that a large box company does...so what do they have to bring to the table? To win your business they have to have that customer service component," said McLendon.

That's what Avoly Pinckney, co-owner of Meme's Boutique in downtown Perry, says she's doing.

"When you come in, you feel important. We remember your name when you come back and that I think is so important to people...When you come in we're gonna find something that makes you feel incredible when you walk out the doors. Amazon can't compete with that," said Pinckney.

The approach resonates with some customers. Betsy Portman said she shops downtown because of that personal focus.

"I like being with the people. Going in, seeing them, saying merry Christmas...it's a good thing," said Portman.