CommonDreams, November 26, 2013
For those suffering from too much quality time with their families, the chain stores are poised to offer an escape by opening Thanksgiving Day. Before your dinner is digested, you can flee the table to vie for pole position at the big box entrance like Roman chariot drivers and prepare to do battle for one of those few really cheap “door-buster” flat-screens.
And it’s not just shoppers jockeying for position. Americans are about to drop a big chunk of change during this holiday season, (an average of $738 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and other items) and every retailer is looking for their piece.
For many years, corporate chains and online giants have garnered an ever-greater share of our spending at the holidays and year-round. That means not only a greater share of revenue being funneled into fewer hands, but big challenges for our communities as downtowns struggle and opportunities for residents to run their own business decrease, diminishing their local multiplier effect.
But evidence suggests healthy wind of change in the winter air. In a recent survey for Deluxe Corporation, 35 percent of respondents said they preferred to do their in-person holiday shopping at small businesses – up sharply from 27 percent in 2012.
This reinforces a survey earlier this year by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which found 68 percent of business owners felt more people recognized the benefits of buying locally than the previous year.
More importantly, it showed concrete results in shifting consumer spending. Independent businesses in communities with grassroots business alliances trumpeting those benefits of buying locally reported an average revenue increase of 8.6% over the previous year, compared to 3.4% among independents in other communities. More than 100 such local business alliances have formed in the past decade.
So do yourself, and your community a favor this year by shifting a bit more spending to your local merchants, both on Small Business Saturday and beyond. Along with helping your neighbors and community, you may just find “going local” turns holiday shopping into a far more relaxing and enjoyable experience: one that rewards both you and your community.