Shop local through the holidays

Posted 11/26/19

Black Friday has been called the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, and has been regarded as the beginning Christmas shopping season dating back to 1952, although the name Black Friday did …

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Shop local through the holidays

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Black Friday has been called the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, and has been regarded as the beginning Christmas shopping season dating back to 1952, although the name Black Friday did not come into wide use until much later.

The shopping tradition in recent years has stretched backwards to Thanksgiving Day. Some retailers, however, don’t like the idea of making their employees work on the holiday, and many, such as Costco, Ikea, Lowe’s and Sam’s Club are keeping their stories closed.

Still, the holiday weekend lures a large number of Americans out to the stores and into cyberspace for their holiday shopping. According to the marketing firm MiQ’s, 88 percent of consumers plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. Nearly half of consumers 47 percent plan to shop on all three.

For the past nine years, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been called Small Business Saturday in an effort to help boost business for small shops in local communities. The credit company American Express takes credit for creating the day. A post on the company’s website says, “American Express cares deeply about thriving communities and believes small businesses are at the core of every successful neighborhood. That’s why—in the midst of the recession in 2010—we created Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.”

The Small Business Administration (SBA), a federal agency, believes the program has been beneficial for small businesses. A statement from the SBA says, “Shopping small makes a huge impact on our nation’s economy. Last year, there were 88 million consumers ‘Shopping Small’ on Saturday, and 77 percent of consumers said Small Business Saturday inspires them to ‘Shop Small’ through the year and not just for the holidays. In addition, 66 percent of consumers state the main reason they support small businesses is because of their contributions to the community.” 

Shopping small has become synonymous with shopping local, and no matter which was you say it, that kind of shopping helps local communities

When a consumer spends money in a local shop, more of that money stays in the community. And oft-cited study found that for every $100 spent locally, $68 remained in the community, but if that $100 is spend at a chain, only $43 remains in the community.

Part of the reason for that is that local businesses tend to support other local businesses for both personal and business reasons. Chain operations, however, report and respond to corporate headquarters and tend not to be as invested in the local community.

Further, shopping local helps to create jobs in the community, which in turn helps stimulate the local economy. Small businesses employ 99 percent of employees in the United States, and small retail outlets, according to the National Retail Federation, independent retail businesses account for about 95 percent of the retail industry, even now in the digital age.

 Another reason to shop local is that the local shop is likely to offer better customer service than a chain. If you have a problem with something you’ve bought from a large chain, you call an 800 phone number, speak to several different people and eventually connect with a person who may or may not have a sincere concern that your issue is positively resolved. With a small business, the owner likely has a direct connection with every employee in the company, and may also personally know many of the customers. Small business owners are likely to be more concerned with ensuring that every customer is satisfied.

Shopping local is also good for the environment, especially when local shops stock locally-sourced goods. Less fossil fuel is consumed shipping the goods to market and less fuel is used to transport customers to the stores.

Finally, we note that shopping local does not include shopping at dollar stores, which tend to take their profits out of the community, and also are adding to a national increase in food deserts. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, “Most dollar stores stock only a limited selection of processed foods and offer no fresh vegetables, fruits, or meats. Yet, in urban neighborhoods and small towns alike, the dollar chains are opening stores at such a density that they’re crowding out full-service grocery stores and making it nearly impossible for new businesses to start and grow.”

 So, if you’re planning to join the national wave of shopping over this holiday weekend, we urge readers to get out to shop small on Small Business Saturday, but also to shop locally on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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