Breckenridge, Colorado

Shop Small and Local This Holiday Season

They snuck up as they always do but the holidays are upon us. Holiday shopping officially kicks off this week with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Even though the shopping season is shorter this year than last by almost a full week, spending is projected to be higher and break $1 trillion for the first time in history. And while online retail will continue its rapid growth (projected at 13.5%), traditional brick and mortar sales will still dominate holiday sales with an estimated 87% share of the seasonal retail market.

That number is a bit surprising given that we’ve been hearing about the death of traditional retail for so many years now. How is it that some brick and mortar retailers are not only surviving but actually growing in the face of the online juggernaut?

One big reason is the influx of creative, young retailers across the country. This new generation of entrepreneurs is offering products, services and a shopping experience that online retailers cannot duplicate.

And it’s not all about the new stores. Many long-time retailers are booming as well in places like Boulder where I live. Think Boulder Bookstore, Weekends, Pedestrian Shops, Art Source, Into the Wind, Peppercorn and dozens of others. These local businesses have made our downtown successful for decades and they’re still going strong despite the growth of online competition.

The reasons are simple. Small businesses offer unique products. They offer the chance to touch, smell, try on and sample before you buy. They offer great service, a great experience and the chance to have fun while you shop.

And, just as important, they directly benefit our local community and everyone who lives here, including you. Dozens of studies over the years have shown the impact of shopping patterns on local economies and the results are powerful.

Research has shown that for every $100 spent in an independent retailer, $$68 stays in the local economy to keep benefiting the community. The same $100 spent at a national chain leaves around $43 in the community. Of course, spending $100 online does nothing to benefit the local economy.

Why does this matter? You don’t have to be an economist to figure out that we all benefit when more of our money stays local. Think about it. Local stores hire local employees and local accountants, lawyers, etc. to help run their businesses. They use their profits to buy cars, groceries and restaurant meals in their home town. The sales taxes they collect pay for trails, libraries and the arts locally. It’s simple. Money that stays in your town benefits you.

Of course, there are some items like an Apple watch that are tough to find in a locally owned store. This year though instead of going to a website, why not visit the local Apple store or even a Best Buy. As the research shows, buying in a chain store is better than online for your local economy.

So here is my ask of you: Every time you open the Amazon app or log in to your computer, stop and think about local alternatives and whether you could find what you’re looking for in Boulder instead of online. If all of us commit to shift just half of what we would normally spend online to local, independent stores, all of our collective spending will multiply and all of our communities will be better off in 2020.

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