Support of local businesses urged as shoppers begin holiday trek

November 21, 2014
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Media’s focus this week is undoubtedly less on Thanksgiving gatherings of friends and families, and more on a heaping helping of big box retailers’ “Black Friday” deals and holiday revenues.

The Business Journal emphasizes that this weekend especially belongs to local retailers and small businesses — those who are likely to enjoy a full Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family before returning to their place of business, often in the same neighborhood as where they live.

Michigan retailers surveyed by Michigan Retailers Association overall seemed cautiously optimistic that holiday retail sales will show 1.6 percent growth. The index for September showed an improvement over 2013, as 53 percent of Michigan retailers reported increased sales. The survey showed 60 percent of retailers statewide expect the October-to-December numbers to increase. The National Retail Federation forecast holiday sales would increase more than 4 percent over 2013. With online sales growth, projected spending is expected to total more than $616.9 billion.

Local First, the tireless advocate of locally owned businesses, found in a 2008 economic study of local businesses in Kent County that even a 10 percent shift in spending from big box stores to local stores would create $140 million in new economic activity (in 2008 dollars) and 1,600 new jobs paying $50 million in wages. The study also showed that 73 percent of the revenue stays in the local community.

American Express in 2010 created “Small Business Saturday,” originally promoted for any Saturday in any week, but which received a groundswell of support from small businesses that emphasized the Saturday after Black Friday.

That date this year is Nov. 29.

Local First Executive Director Elissa Hillary is fond of quoting Michael H. Shuman, the author of “Going Local,” who writes: “Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.”

Grand Rapids Business Journal urges support of local businesses on any day.

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