Weekly Columns

Keeping Your Holiday Shopping Local Helps Your Community

Senator John Boozman's Column for the Week of November 21, 2011

Nov 21 2011

“Black Friday” brought over 210 million Americans in search of deals to shopping malls over Thanksgiving weekend last year according to the industry trade group, National Retail Federation.  While that figure actually takes into account retail sales numbers for the entire four-day weekend and not just “Black Friday,” it still shows that consumers like to save big when they can and Thanksgiving weekend remains profitable for retailers. 

An equally positive indicator from last year’s holiday season was the numbers online retailers posted on “Cyber Monday,” the Monday following “Black Friday” where significant deals are offered to spur online sales.  According to analysts, online sales rose 16 percent during last year’s “Cyber Monday,” topping $1 billion for the first time. 

If department stores and big-box retailers have “Black Friday” and online retailers have “Cyber Monday,” what does this leave for smaller retailers?  

For the second year in a row, mom & pop stores and small retailers across America are participating in “Small Business Saturday.” This day recognizes the local businesses and neighborhood retailers and the importance they play in the community.

Sponsors of “Small Business Saturday” said retailers who took part in the inaugural event last year saw a 20 percent increase in their business that day.  This is a big opportunity to build on last year’s success and promote locally, independently-owned businesses.  

In poll after poll, respondents repeatedly say supporting their community’s small businesses is of vital importance.  Here is a simple way we can show how much we value our local small retailers by participating in an event that shines the spotlight on their significance.  

By taking the small step of shopping locally this holiday season, we can make a big impact on our communities.  Small businesses, including smaller retailers, are the heart of our economy.  Money spent in our local communities gets reinvested, draws attention to local merchants and could ultimately lead to more new jobs.  Over the past two decades, small business owners have created more than 65 percent of the new jobs in the United States and they employ about half of all private sector employees.  At a time when our economy is struggling to create jobs, “Small Business Saturday” is an excellent campaign to help push economic development in our own communities. 

Given all the economic uncertainties looming over our economy, many Americans will likely spend less money this holiday season.  So why not keep it local?  We can help pump up our local economies by participating in “Small Business Saturday.”  Bring your family and friends to join you. Let’s maximize our buying power and help keep our money in our communities by making it a priority to support locally owned businesses on Saturday, November 26th.