Since its founding in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday has emerged as a major event for holiday shoppers who want to support their community.
In fact, a survey showed that customers spent a whopping $14.3 billion with small, independent businesses on the day in 2014, a strong indication of how the day is growing into a major American shopping tradition.
If the trend continues, 2015’s Small Business Saturday will be even bigger.
Why Shop Local
The reason so many people are shopping on Small Business Saturday is simple: it works.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of spending with locally owned businesses instead of their chain-store competitors. Local shops typically invest far more into their community by using local vendors, employing local people and keeping their profits close to home instead of shipping them to an out-of-town headquarters.
It also results in tax revenue that supports the services and infrastructure in your own town. If you shop locally in your own community instead of traveling elsewhere to spend your money, you’ll know any sales taxes collected will be spent on improving your local area — often helping to fund things like roads, sidewalks, police officers and firefighters.
Not Another Vacation Home
You may have heard the phrase, “When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home; you are helping a little girl getting dance lessons, and a little boy get his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay a mortgage or a student pay for college”, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Each day, countless of small businesses are asked for donations – whether it be for the local church bazaar, the boyscout funding his eagle scout project, or a school child fundraising for a field trip – they have been asked by every organization possible. Yet, most of those businesses, open their cash drawers and checkbooks to help, with enthusiasm, knowing they are helping their community.
Small Businesses don’t donate for the ‘promotion’ of their businesses. They do it because it makes them feel good and know that they have been given the opportunity to reinvest back into their community.
By shopping locally you are enabling the local economy to flourish, provide local jobs, and allowing those business to reinvest back into the community and continue making those almost ‘expected’ donations.
Another reason to shop on Small Business Saturday is for the fun of it. Small, locally owned shops often have unique Christmas gifts with a local flavor. And if you’re unhappy with the lack of service at many of the big, national chain stores, you may be pleasantly surprised at the personal attention you get by shopping with small businesses.
Local Shopping Challenge
Let’s cut to the chase. By now you’ve heard the statistics. Almost $75 of every $100 you spend locally stays in your community. Local businesses employ millions of people across the country.
Local entrepreneurs spend exponentially more money on community programs than their larger counterparts.
All impressive, indeed. So then why are millions of Americans driving away or logging on to their computers for their Christmas shopping this holiday season? Some cite convenience, tight budgets, or simply that they have too busy of a schedule – without realizing just how much impact they can have on their local community by spending a few dollars locally.
Buy Every Other Product Locally
Breaking the habit can be tough, so start small. Challenge yourself to buy one locally sold product for every other gift you purchase. And try to make the prices comparable so about half of your total holiday budget is spent locally.
Encourage your friends to do the same and you could be making a monumental difference in your community. If 10 of you spend $300 on local gifts this year, about $2,250 of that $3,000 would be pumped right back into your local community. Comparably, your community will see $0 of your online spending at retail giants.
Buy All Gifts Cards Locally
Gift cards are becoming an increasingly massive portion of holiday spending. More than 80 percent of holiday shoppers will buy at least one. More than $28 billion will be shelled out on gift cards this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Many people will spend their gift cards on food or everyday items if you buy them for traditional retailers. Don’t you want your present to be more meaningful? A gift card to a local specialty shop or boutique will ensue that your gift card is spent on exactly what it is intended to – a gift.
Try to personalize each gift card by choosing a local business that has special meaning to the recipient, or maybe one that you have shopped at before with that person.
Shopping locally can save you more than holiday cash. Stress, body weight and environmental harm are at risk of increasing during the holiday season. Implement a little bit of local shopping into your routine and watch those negative implications melt away. Here’s how:
‘Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed, frenzied, or road-raged. Trade in the hustle and bustle of long car rides and over-packed malls for a relaxing stroll through your favorite downtown business.
The benefits of slowing things down over the holidays can improve your health, well-being and overall mood, especially when schedules are at their fullest.
The less time you spend traveling great distances and drudging through hoards of shoppers, the more time you will be able to enjoy with your family around the fireplace. So maybe it’s time to focus less on leaving the area, and take advantage of the calming convenience of shopping local.
Save the Environment
Staying local obviously cuts down on travel for both you and delivery drivers, a twofold benefit that means less carbon, pollution and traffic congestion. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, trucks and locomotives are responsible for 25 percent of smog-causing pollution and the majority of the cancer threat posed by air pollution in some areas.
Local businesses help the environment by stocking local produce and food, and using less packaging than larger chain establishments. This helps make our local communities more sustainable and keeps hard-to-break-down plastics out of our landfills.
Local businesses depend less on packaging because their food is fresh and their products are locally produced, reducing the distance and packaging required to maintain quality.
Staying in the area for your Christmas shopping could be good for both your wallet and your waistline. If you live close enough to local businesses – and if you don’t mind the chilly winter weather – walk or ride your bike to the store.
The central locations of downtown businesses provide a hub of shopping activity that requires only a short stroll down the sidewalk to shop door-to-door. Mixing in a little physical activity as opposed to spending hours in your car or extended periods of time on escalators, will aid in burning calories and improving your overall health.
And better health is a gift we all deserve.
Not just for the Holiday Season
Sure, Christmas is a great time to shower your loved ones with locally bought gifts. But what about the other major holidays throughout the year?
Extend your yuletide joy to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries for maximum impact on your local community and business owners.
Your effort in doing so may make more of a difference than you realize. A recent collaborative study by the Small Business Administration, United States Department of Labor and other major organizations found that small businesses employ about 77 million Americans and account for 65 percent of all new jobs over the past 17 years.
So by spending your money locally, you are helping keep your friends and neighbors employed during the holiday season and beyond!