By Matt Ford
t’s hard to believe that the holiday shopping season is upon us again. Alas, it’s time to start thinking about what to stack under the tree for everyone on your Christmas list, or at least the ones who haven’t been naughty. With all the time spent thinking about what to buy for loved ones and friends, where you buy it should also be a factor. Doing your holiday shopping at locally owned businesses this year is a gift you can give to your own community.
Online shopping is convenient and so are big box stores that have a lot of variety to choose from. Certainly, convenience can be an attractive incentive – Amazon reported record- high holiday sales in 2020. But shopping in locally owned businesses offers more value to your area by keeping the money local, creating jobs, and supporting city programs with additional tax dollars. Money spent locally goes directly to your community, and every dollar spent is invested into the business and those who run it.
Like everyone else in the country, small business owners are being hit with higher costs due to decades-high inflation. Adding to those extra expenses businesses face, holiday spending growth is projected to slow to 7.1 percent from 8.5 percent a year earlier, a recent Mastercard (MA.N) SpendingPulse report suggests.
Many retail businesses do the bulk of their business during the holiday season. This is doubly important for small businesses and boutiques, whose owners often need to see a solid Christmas shopping season in order to keep the doors open the rest of the year. When you shop local, approximately 48 percent of the cost of your purchase is recirculated back into the local economy. When you shop at a chain store, that number drops to only 14 percent, according to the American Independent Business Alliance (AIBA),
The experience of shopping itself is also enhanced when patronizing small businesses because customer service is often at a higher premium. Smaller companies usually have fewer customers, which makes each customer more valuable. Everyone that comes into the store then becomes a priority.
One of the main reasons people cite for shopping online for Christmas is that it saves them stress. But give it another try. When you shop local and bump elbows with your friends, you just might find that the hustle and bustle can actually contribute to your holiday spirit.