Local Issues · Sustainability

Wrapping Up on Holiday Shopping

Facing the crowds this holiday season in local shops downtown I’ve encountered a certain whispered phrase time and time again, “don’t buy that here, we can find it cheaper online”.

In a time of recession it is comforting to see people flooding the streets and packing in stores during the weeks leading up to Christmas. However, with cell phone apps that allow consumers to scan bar codes to find a better deal, you wonder how many people are leaving stores empty handed only to do their shopping online.

According to USA Today, sales online from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1 are up 15% this year compared the same month last year. With many sites offering free shipping, and discounted prices, it’s easy to see why many consumers are opting to shop on their computer.

Being of Dutch heritage, I can understand a good deal. I’m the girl you seeing shifting through the sale rack of retail shops and buying the medium drink at a coffee shop instead of the small, just because you get more drink for your money. I also understand that many are strapped for cash these days, and want to be able to get their friends and family something special for the holidays.

In 2008, a study was conducted on the impact of local business on the economy of West Michigan. It was found that for every $100 a person spends at a local business $68 stays within the community, while when the same amount is spent at a non-local business, only $43 remains within the community.

Now think about the money you spend online at businesses that are not even within your community, or within your state or country for that matter. How much purchase revenue is your community missing out on with all the online sales?

Just some food for thought while you finish checking off the rest of the gifts on your list this holiday season. I can’t say that I’ve bought all my gifts at local businesses this year, but it’s nice to know for the ones I did I’m supporting my community in a big way.

Happy shopping!

References:

USA today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/story/2011-12-06/online-retail-sales-surge/51682896/1

 LOCAL WORKS! Examining the Impact of Local Business on the West Michigan Economy September 2008

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