Weekly Columns

Christmas commercials are a reminder that the holiday season is here. If your list of things to do looks my wife Cathy’s, it includes putting up decorations, baking and shopping. As we look for the perfect presents for our family and friends, retailers are looking for ways to get us in their stores. The holiday shopping season is key for many retailers’ that rely on this time of year for big profits. A recent Gallup poll found that Americans expect to spend almost $80 more this year on holiday shopping.

Small businesses are joining the post-Thanksgiving shopping blitz with Small Business Saturday. This national initiative encourages support of our local businesses during the holiday season. Small Business Saturday is big business. Last year, shoppers spent $5.7 billion at locally owned shops and restaurants on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That’s an increase of more than three percent from 2012 according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express. In its fifth year, Small Business Saturday is projecting even bigger successes.

This day recognizes the local businesses and neighborhood retailers and the importance they play in our communities. Money spent in our small businesses gets reinvested in the community, draws attention to local merchants and could ultimately lead to more new jobs. In this economy, small businesses have struggled and they need our support. By taking the small step of shopping locally this holiday season, we can make a big impact on our communities.

Small businesses are the engines of our economy. They employ half of the workforce in our country and make up 99 percent of all U.S. businesses, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The retail sector, the industry that benefits most from Small Business Saturday, directly employs more than 250,000 Arkansans.

As a cosponsor of the Senate-passed resolution that supports Small Business Saturday and recognizes the importance local businesses and neighborhood retailers play in the community, I am also supporting policies to create a climate that encourages growth for these job creators. This can be accomplished by preventing the inefficient, ineffective and unnecessary regulations that are keeping our small businesses from expanding, reforming our tax code to make it more fair and easier for all Americans to understand and cutting spending to address the debt. These are good starting points that would provide predictability so owners can make good decisions about planning for growth.

We can help our communities grow by supporting our locally owned small businesses this Christmas season. These are owned and operated by our neighbors, church family and budding entrepreneurs who want a piece of the American dream. Let’s help their dreams because reality and continue the success of Small Business Saturday. I hope you will join me in putting our small businesses on your shopping list this Christmas season.