This period is a peak season for the retail sector of the economy as consumers scramble to buy the latest products for holiday gift exchange.
What many people don’t realize is that they are supporting local economies when stay at home to do their holiday shopping with local vendors and retailers. Dollars spent locally remain in the community longer than dollars spent at national chains.
“When people shop at home, the money stays at home,” said Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce.
“Local shopping is the life flow of Cleveland,” added Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell, “It’s how we derive our sales tax.”
A recent series of economic impact studies conducted by the economic analysis and development consultancy Civic Economics found supporting data for the local economic benefits of sustaining local and independent business ownership. According to the studies, which incorporated 10 American communities, consumers shopping at indie retailers generate 3.7 times more direct local economic benefit versus consumers shopping at chains.
Advocates for local independent business have even launched a campaign that encourages holiday shoppers and businesses to make a "shift" during this busy season to buying more from local independent businesses. The second annual “Shift Your Shopping” was launched at the beginning of November in preparations for holiday shopping and has gathered a large support community of groups collectively representing more than 41,000 locally owned and independent businesses across the United States.
“Cleveland has always encouraged people to shop locally,” said Nowell, showing his support for the campaign. “You can find everything you need right here. We have all the stores that other places have; you don’t have to leave to find what you’re looking for.”
Thigpen added that, especially during the Christmas season, Clevelanders are lured by various promotions to downtown shopping, but efforts are not just limited to the holiday season.
“We do things like that throughout the year to try to encourage people to shop at home.”
Both Thigpen and Nowell believe that local shopping is essential to a community’s success.
By putting money into the local economy, consumers ensure the success and endurance of their communities.
According to the American Independent Business Alliance, "Independent locally-owned businesses are essential to a vital local economy and community character. Community-serving businesses are the backbone of local economies, civic life, local charities, and wealth creation for millions of citizens, as well as a training ground for future generations of entrepreneurs."
“The economy in the Mississippi Delta depends mostly on small businesses,” said Thigpen.
An advantage of living within such a close-knit community is that we can often aid one another in business.
“Anytime we can do something to help someone with a business idea that can be a benefit to the local community, we do it.”